By Emmanuel Ebeleke
…puts 876 on wheels
FOR MTN Nigeria, there seems to be no limit to giving succor to the disabled. There is also probably no limit to which an indigent person can get, to achieve his or her wishes and aspirations.Â There is only a short fall in support and encouragement from those considered whole or able.
Perhaps to fill this short fall, the telecommunications company has in recent times embarked on a number of spirited initiatives aimed at uplifting the indigent.
Penultimate week, the company in Abuja, during the 2009 International Day for persons with disability, put about 470 disabled persons on wheels.
MTN said that even if the disabled can not walk, there was need to make life more easy and enjoyable for them, calling on other well meaning Nigerians to turn to these set of people in the society, particularly at this time of the year when loved ones are remembered.
Chairman, MTN Foundation, Ambassador Hamzat Ahmadu in his remarks at the event held at Women development centre, AbujaÂ said MTN joined the rest of the world to commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disability to fulfill the United Nationâ€™s aim ofÂ promoting an understanding of disability issues, the rights of persons with disabilities and gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities.
Ahmadu also said that MTN found the event as a better opportunity to reduce the suffering of the estimated 25 million Nigerians living with disability through the provision of mobility facilities.Â Majority of whom he said have do notÂ have access to facilities that can enable them to conduct their day-to-day activities without significant difficulties.
â€œAs you would imagine, without facilities to aid their mobility, many are unable to attend school like their peers who are able-bodied. And when they decide to pursue technical skills acquisition, it is even more difficult, because there are limited skills acquisition centres targeted at the needs of the disabled in our society.
â€œIt is for this reason that the MTN Foundation under its Economic Empowerment Portfolio came up with two major projects aimed at making life easier for persons with disabilities. We have the Disability Support Project, a scheme implemented by the Foundationâ€™s partners, the Independent Living People and Mobility and Aid and Appliances Research and Development Centre, which is aimed at providing 5000 mobility aids and appliances for select number of physically challenged people. This is the project under which we are donating mobility aids and appliances to beneficiaries today.â€ said Ambassador Ahmed.
Also in Lagos at the weekend, the MTN Foundation commenced a science and technology scholarship scheme which would benefit about 514 indigent Nigerian youths .Flagging off the scheme, Corporate Services Executive, MTN, Mr. Wale Goodluck, used the opportunity to present about 406 mobility aids and appliances to persons with disability.
Goodluck was later to reveal that the MTN science and technology scholarship scheme was another way of intervening and supporting the Nigerian education system by his company and a way of giving deserving Nigerians who have financial challenges the opportunity to get quality education.
As part of the first phase of the scheme, he said the foundation had after rigorous process of examination, short-listed 514 candidates who qualified based on merit, and will be getting N200,000 each per annum, adding that the beneficiaries will be entitled to an extension the scholarship based on their continued academic performance.
Apart from these projects, MTN foundation had also embarked on Skills Acquisition Project, implemented in partnership with the Friends of the Disabled (FOTD). TheÂ project was aimed at empowering persons with disabilities by providing them with various vocational skills ranging from Tailoring and Fashion design to metal works and bead making, among others.
The Disability Support Project, was designed to cover all 36 states of the federation. The first phaseÂ of the project had already kicked off in 11 states of the federation, while the remaining 25 States will benefit in subsequent phases.
The Foundation said it currently has over 160 project sites impacting millions of lives across the country in the key areas of health, education and economic empowerment.