By William J. Mbangula Oniipa The Minister of Health and Social Welfare Dr Richard Kamwi has urged regional councillors to start opening special desks in their offices for disabled people. The minister made this appeal at Oniipa when he opened the project of the visually impaired women, locally known as Ileni Mwiita-leleko (Come and see for yourselves). Established with the objectives to improve the standards of living for disabled people, to alleviate poverty and to provide skills for disabled people, the project kicked off in 1993. This dream came about after two visually impaired women received their training at Nakayale Vocational Training Centre in the Omusati Region. Now the project has about 30 members, the majority being women. At this centre, sewing, basket making, selling of traditional food and other activities are part and parcel of the income-generating activities. According to one of the stakeholders in the project Penda Auala, the construction of the building came a long way before it was realised recently. The women went through hard times in terms of gathering resources for construction of the building. One of the main sponsors was the then Ministry of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation which through the Rehabilitation Division provided an amount of N$2 million to construct the building. It has, among others, sleeping rooms, showers, kitchen, offices, storerooms, a boardroom, a conference hall and an open space for trading and any other outdoor activities. The responsibility of supervising the centre has been taken over by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. “This building is the first of its kind in Namibia by visually impaired women and this is a clear demonstration that disability is not inability. There are many disabled people in the country who are being cared for by their relatives but what we are witnessing today is a project initiated and run by visually impaired people, which is very wonderful.” The minister said he had opened many clinics and other centres throughout the country but he was not as emotionally touched as in the case with the elderly visually impaired women’s performance during the opening ceremony, the group being the driving force behind the establishment of the project. He encouraged the project members to re-double their efforts in order to ensure a stable society and economic growth. Responding to the minis-ter’s appeal for special care for the disabled through regional councillors, the Governor for Oshikoto Region Penda ya Ndakolo, who also attended the event, told the gathering that his regional headquarters currently under construction at Omuthiya had made special provision for disability desks. The Oshikoto regional headquarters are envisaged to relocate from Tsumeb to Omuthiya as soon as the new offices are completed.
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