For the 25th consecutive time in Ethiopia, and for the 26th globally, the world recognized those people who are disabled. On 3 December 2017 at the Science Amba auditorium, with the theme ‘transformation towards sustainable resilient societies for all’, the event kicked off. The Disability Studies and Service directorate, Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) and numerous stakeholders in Gondar city organized the event.
Dr. Desalegn Mengesha, president of the University of Gondar, Prof. Mersha Chanie, Research and Community Service vice president, Dr. Meseret Kassie, Business and Development vice president, Mrs. Hewot Abebe, Disability Studies and Service directorate director, Gondar city administration’s disability stakeholders and Gondar city and UoG disabled honored guests were present on that Sunday to take in some insightful information.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that at least 1 billion people, which amounts to 15 percent of the world’s population, are disabled. The causes of such crippling features and lack of physical motor skills of disabled people is partly due to chronic illness and old age. What makes this day relevant and all the more prevalent is the fact that these people are given recognition and thus far it has been showing great results.
In her welcoming speech Mrs. Hewot Abebe spoke of her experience as director of Disability Studies and Service directorate and its role in society. She started by referencing that ever since its conception the directorate has been working to assist administrative staff and students with disabilities. Mrs. Hewot stated, “Via training for students and by giving supportive materials with educational and disability apparatuses UoG is doing its share to give those people with disabilities a chance to excel.”
According to the director these kinds of events are significant and impactful for the world we live in. By declaring that IDPD will be observed next year the director of the Disability Studies and Service directorate thanked the guests and people for their cooperation.
Following the welcoming speech by Mrs. Abebe, Dr. Desalegn Mengesha, president of UoG, opened the event by focusing on key factors contributing to the sustainable growth of enlightened people with disabilities.
“The University of Gondar has been doing a lot of work for disabled people through its various programs and projects” said Dr. Desalegn. Such initiatives such as the MasterCard foundations Scholars program and the CBR project is doing loads for the disabled community. “Over the next 10 years, by giving an opportunity of a lifetime to disabled students from home and abroad, the MasterCard Scholars program is bound to assist in a major way” said the president.
20 students have been recruited and are now on a path to a higher education. These students will be given monetary and material assistance along their way to make the best of their experience at the University of Gondar.
Alleviating the status quo and transforming the misconception of disabled people in Ethiopia to a positive one will be a task that needs to be tackled. According to the president of UoG though it’s a must to see disabled people as worthy partners in the fight to change the country. “To enhance development Ethiopia needs to incorporate disabled people into various sectors to participate in the growth of the country” he said.
According to WHO statistics 17.6 percent of people found in Ethiopia are labeled as handicapped or disabled. To put this all in perspective of the 17.6 percent of the disabled in Ethiopia, 95 percent of these people are poverty stricken and financially unstable.
By Amsalu Gizachew| Public and International Relations Directorate
Translated by Samuel Malede| Public and International Relations Directorate