ELCIN’s 16th Anniversary

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By William J.Mbangula OSHAKATI The Elcin Rehabilitation Centre (ERC) at Oniipa in the Oshikoto region will celebrate its 16th anniversary on Friday; this after having achieved a training rate of 300 community-based volunteer rehabilitators, announced Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Adviser of the ERC, Patricia Flynn. The day-long event, initiated in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Services, will mark the achievements of voluntary rehabilitation. It will spearhead the initial stages for the formation of a Four Region CBR Volunteer organization. The four regions to be included are Oshana, Oshikoto, Ohangwena and Omusati regions which, in terms of the 2001 population census, have a combined 20,8% of the total of 85ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 567 people with disabilities in Namibia. Sponsored by the Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO), Sanlam, Pick ‘n Pay and others, such celebrations will also be used by participants to share experiences and to initiate the formation of peer support networks, recognizing, recording and reinforcing the value of work currently being done by the volunteers. They will also be used to provide a forum where local and regional CBR committees can be formed with a view for the eventual establishment of a CBR organization, familiarizing the volunteers with the government policies which they can use to support their work of advocating for the rights of people with disabilities; also for acknowledging the crucial role the local volunteers play in the CBR approach in order to service delivery by organizing a significant event, primarily in their native language to be attended by major decision-makers; as well as to directly address issues raised by CBR volunteers such as lack of identification and accessible information on government policies, and others. Patricia Flynn said close to 300 community-based volunteers were trained during the past 16 years and then returned to their respective areas where they set up further training programmes for their people. The centre was officially opened on September 22 and had its main tasks outlined, which consisted of training people with disabilities from individual families, communities, schools, health services and congregations and teaching them how to prevent disabilities, early detection, rehabilitation and attitude-reforming. Th tasks included training volunteer community rehabilitation workers how to arrange workshops for people with disabilities in order to enable them to establish income-generating projects and to provide them with relevant management skills. The staff complement of 16 includes the rehabilitation coordinator, an accountant, rehabilitation officers, braille printers, proof readers, audio studio officer, office secretary, driver and cleaners. The centre cooperates fully with Onandjokwe Hospital’s ophthalmologists (eye experts), physiotherapist and the Primary Health Care. Its operation facilities also include various offices, classrooms (enough even for group work), resource rooms, and can also accommodate 24 with kitchen facilities, a dining room and houses for staff members. The centre has a braille section which produces braille books to meet the demands of visually impaired persons and access them to education. A small studio for producing talking books for visually impaired persons is also available at the centre. Flynn noted that the CBR approach is one of the highly recommended methods approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is a component of Primary Health Care that emphasizes the integration and active participation of the people with disabilities themselves, their family members and the community at large.