A Namibian woman with a disability is urging society to be more inclusive of all people.
Loide Hango says although inclusiveness is often discussed, people with disabilities are facing challenges which prevent them from reaching their full potential.
She was motivating children with disabilities during an event observing World Children’s Day at Walvis Bay on Saturday.
“If you go to schools that offer excellent education, you would notice very few or no pupils with disabilities. When you apply, the principal wants to first approach the school board to discuss it.
“We are then enrolled at schools for children with disabilities instead,” she said.
Hango said another barrier is not being provided opportunities to follow certain career choices.
“How many of you have seen a president with disabilities? When you apply for some jobs, the requirements are that you should have a driving licence.
“We cannot drive. These are the things that are limiting us in reaching our goals, and we are still talking about inclusion. We are rather given positions as secretaries, receptionists, tellers and so on,” she said.
Hango said there was a need to continue giving people with disabilities social grants while they are employed, and to double the social grant amount when they reach the age of 60.
She said some parents at villages hide their children with disabilities, who could reach their potential in various fields if they were brought into the public.
“This is what we face, but we should be strong and never give up. Let us focus and appreciate each other. Let us accept and strengthen each other.
“Study hard to become somebody . . . I urge society to care, encourage, celebrate and appreciate those with disabilities, as they are also accepted by God,” she said.
Minister of gender equality, poverty eradication and social welfare Doreen Sioka at the event said it was painful to hear about some issues on discrimination.
“People with disabilities received N$250 in the past, which has increased to N$350. It is now at N$1 400.
“Since it has gone up, parents are coming out with their children. Please report anyone who is hiding a child. It is painful. The government needs these children,” she said.
Namibian Paralympic athlete Johanna Benson encouraged the youth, and especially those with disabilities, to succeed.
“The moment I won the silver medal and hearing our national anthem on that podium was a great experience. Believe in yourself, have faith, and just use the good opportunities in your life,” she said.
Pohamba Phiri (16) from Zambia agreed that life could get better with the right support.
“There is a need for support to harness our skills. I know I am different, but I am not afraid to do public speaking. With the right support, I could use my skills to make a living,” he said.
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