The Deputy Minister in the Office of the Vice-President responsible for Disability Affairs, Alexia Manombe-Ncube, has called on guardians of disabled people to restore them their dignity by properly taking care of them and treating them like any other human being.
Manombe-Ncube did the urging when she visited one disabled person at Onampindi in the Omusati Region yesterday. She she was familiarising herself with the conditions the disabled mother of a seven-year-old child was living in, after recent reports on the NBC Oshiwambo radio service that the disabled woman was subjected to inhumane treatment and living under unhygienic conditions.
Manombe-Ncube stressed the importance of treating disabled people with the care and dignity they deserve. They should not try to hide them in their houses to avoid them being seen by other community members, she added.
“It is important that we integrate these people in our society and not see them as burdens,” she said.
The living conditions of the 25-year-old Liina Nandjila Shiimi, who suffers from a psycho-social disability, came under the spotlight after one of the village’s community members went on air on NBC Oshiwambo radio service claiming that Shiimi was subjected to harsh living conditions in her uncle’s house.
Shiimi’s condition was reportedly caused by a certain illness she suffered while she was young, which left her completely disabled. She is only able to crawl and not walk.
Although the situation under which Shiimi was living was found to be of a normal ‘poverty’ nature like in any other country, the deputy minister was shocked to learn that of the N$1 000 she is entitled to through the government’s disability grant scheme, only N$300 reaches the current guardians of Shiimi, while the rest is kept by a certain aunt who happens to live in Walvis Bay.
In an attempt to establish the exact ‘welfare condition’ of Shiimi, Manombe-Ncube ordered a full medical evaluation of her by health professionals at Oshakati State Hospital and that she at least be hospitalized for a few days so that she is closely monitored.
During the visit, the office of the governor in the Omusati Region donated canned fish and pledged to buy Shiimi a decent mattress, blankets and other necessities.
Erginus Endjala, Governor of the Omusati Region, promised to further assist Shiimi with soliciting a wheelchair from a local hospital. The governor announced that a regional database of all persons living with disability shall be set up, in order to best assist them.
“I would like to call on the public to open up to my office and report cases of disabled persons without exaggerating situations,” Endjala said.
- Lot Shikongo is an Information Officer working in the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology in the Omusati Region.