Integrating Disabled into Society [Archives:1999/14/Health]

April 5 1999

Handicapped people represent a full 12% of our society. All forms of disabilities – mental, physical, – sight or hearing – are included in this troubling number.
The basic point I am trying to make is that a disabled person is not an inferior person. Such a person cannot be deprived of his/her rights and must not be exempted from his/her duties towards their country. In other words, handicapped persons must be integrated into the society.
In Yemen, awareness on this matter is still limited and neglected whether by concerned specialists or parents, despite the fact that the Official Rehabilitation Center of The Martyr Fadhl Al Halali was founded in 1989. This is a joint work of the UNDP, International Labor Organization, Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs and Ministry of Education. The implementation of the project went well. Two production units were established to create chances for graduates to work in a future practical career. But after completion, many obstacles appeared regarding staff and material. The activities of the center were reduced instead of expanded; and the center now includes only two sections, educational and vocational.
The Educational Section includes 14 departments with 209 students, 87 of them are females. Thirty of those students abandoned their study due to transportation difficulties. These departments start from first to sixth grade with 22 teachers.
The Vocational Section includes 10 departments with 140 students, 27 of them are females. The crafts are as follows:
Carpentry, smithy, weaving, packing, farming, sewing (men and women separate parts), typing and computer, manual activities and machine-weaving. The vocational section has 17 trainers and assistants.
Handicapped persons’ benefits from the services of this center vary. Most of them are deaf or mute, besides the mentally disabled one, and some with physical problems.
Future plans call for taking in an increasing the number of physical disabled because new sections, including one for the blind, will be opened.
The center prepared a plan to improve the current situation, but financial obstacles stood in the way of implementation. Lacking a permanent source of support after completing the project, the center lost its balance. Unfortunately the two production departments are not activated,. Those were the departments the center was greatly looking forward to, to guarantee opportunities of employment to graduates and a financial source for the center.
Basic difficulties the center suffers from many, but the main ones are as follows:
– The distant location of the center with no sufficient transportation mean or allowance for the 450 students and employees. The center owns 3 old buses that break down frequently. Thus, the center was forced to hire a bus. This added to the financial drain. These 4 buses do the work of 8 buses daily, working in two shifts. They cost the center YR. 70000 a month, a major headache in itself.
– No sustained stream of income for some of the employees, who are not on the official payroll of the state, but receive payment from the project.
– The building lacks proper maintenance, and there is a deterioration in the health condition of the students and staff.
– Insufficient educational materials and teaching aides, especially for the mutes and deaf.
– No necessary work material for training in the crafts departments.
– No specialized educational material for deaf and mute that help improve the quality of education and training.
– Lack of trained staff, no encouragement to work with this kind of people that requires special kind of treatment and lots of patience.
– No entertainment or sports facilities that suit the handicapped’s abilities.
– No food facilities especially for breakfast. The remote location of the center imposes on the students to arrive early (around 5-6 a.m.) and a long stay, up to 3 p.m.
The center extends all its efforts to improve the situation. Many promises were made, but unfortunately nothing was realized. Even those who previously supported the center stopped their support. These include the Municipality, The Local Council, The Ministry of Local Administration and some philanthropists.
Parents are quite enthusiastic and eager to register their children at the center. About 400 students are on the waiting list due to insufficient space and resources. Some are unable to cover the monthly expenses of the center that is YR. 2500, as they are poor and have other children to support.
There is another problem. Graduates of this center have not been successful in finding jobs. More than 150 students graduated from the center and have been unemployed. They are looking in government offices, and in the private sector. Nonewtheless, some have been employed.
Ms. Mona Basharahel, General Manager of the center, says: “We appeal to philanthropists and the society, at large, as well as to international organizations to extend their help and assist the center in overcoming the current conditions of the staff and students.”