The Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service, in collaboration with various other ministries and entities, recently held a series of workshops for young people with disabilities, aimed at educating them on various social issues.
Tobias Mumoye, a youth officer and organiser of the workshops, on Thursday said: “We organised these workshops in response to the needs of young Namibians with disabilities.”
He said the workshops provide a platform for young people to openly express and share the challenges they encounter within their communities.
“Some of the items we were able to discuss included disability mainstreaming and repositioning young people with disabilities,” he said.
According to Mumoye, the youth ministry acknowledges that it is unable to address all the needs of young people with disabilities alone.
The ministry has therefore collaborated with various ministries and agencies.
“We are just a custodian for youths with disabilities,” he said.
The initiative involved engagements from various stakeholders, including the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, the Ministry of Health and Social Services, the Office of the Ombudsman, the National Assembly, and the National Youth Council.
“We dealt with a number of issues, including access to health, affirmative action, employment, and advocacy for laws pertaining to young people with disabilities,” Mumoye said.
He said the initiative was initially conducted as a pilot project.
The youth ministry plans to expand the workshops to all 14 regions once sufficient funds are available.
Currently, the Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena, and Oshikoto regions have been consulted as part of the project, with fifteen people representing each region.
“There is an urgent need to address the pleas of our people in an effort to level the playing field. This is the only way we can ensure that the public sector will be accessible and equitable for all,” Mumoye said.
The workshops were held at the Ongwediva Rural Development Centre (RDC) in the Oshana region.
Board member of the National Organisation for Youth with Disabilities Moses Shikale was one of the participants of the initiative.
“Me and my fellow youth with disabilities in Oshikoto were selected to take part in the training initiative, and our expectations were to gain insight, to enhance leadership skills and abilities, to develop strategies for motivating and engaging fellow young people with disabilities, and to improve communication skills, as it was the first of its kind,” Shikale said.
He said a lot of work still needs to be done to ensure inclusiveness for all people with disabilities.
“Unfairness during interviews, attitudes of employers and social stigma surrounding our disabilities are still some of the things we are subject to on a daily basis,” Shikale said.
“Employers underestimate our abilities, misunderstand us, or discriminate against us, and most working environments aren’t suited to our physical needs, such as buildings with inadequate wheelchair accessibility,” he said.
According to Shikale, the training opportunity was instrumental in helping the participants realise their potential.
“The training opened our minds to things we thought we couldn’t participate in,” he said.
“Meeting different stakeholders helped us to get answers to some of our questions regarding some of our challenges, as we were encouraged to study and get qualifications. We were also encouraged to start small businesses and not just to sit at home,” Shikale said.
He said the partnership formed between the youth ministry and other stakeholders is vital in addressing the needs of people with disabilities.
The failure to implement policies is discouraging, he said.
“Hopefully, these training initiatives are not once off, because they help with exposure,” he said.
Shikale further recommended that more programmes of the same nature be hosted often.