By Cosmas Okoli
The most important intervention in empowering people with disability is the provision of appropriate mobility aids and appliances.
By so doing, they are equipped, encouraged and well motivated to ‘test the waters of life’. This gesture bolsters their self esteem, and a sense of ‘I can be’ belief is born in them. Not only are they able to move about more freely and independently, they are also well integrated into the fabric of society and are made more socially, economically and politically relevant to themselves, their families and the society .
It is always a commendable gesture for non government organizations to invest in the lives of the disabled. It is an investment because, by empowering these persons with disabilities, meaning is given to their lives, and they are able to find their place in the society and also contribute their quota to the process of nation building.
Our door at MAARDEC (Mobility Aid and Appliances Research and Development Centre) is always open to partner with any and all such bodies, who believe in the enormous potentials that can be harnessed by empowering and mainstreaming persons with disabilities in society.
This well underpins our mission statement/corporate and organizational objective, which is to empower people with disabilities, through the provision of innovative and affordable mobility aids and appliances and complimentary services, to ensure that they are socially, economically and politically relevant in the society.
It is often said; there is ability in disability. Hence the theme of one of our reach-out programmes sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) Charities tagged “celebrating ability in disability” where one thousand wheelchairs were procured and distributed free to indigent Nigerians with disabilities across Nigeria.
The wheelchairs were imported into the country by the LDS Charities, and they also funded the clearing of the wheelchairs from the ports while MAARDEC took care of all other logistics such as: haulage of the consignments from the port to our storage, and from our storage to the venues in Lagos, Imo, Anambra and FCT Abuja where they were distributed to the beneficiaries from various parts of the country.
MAARDEC also organized workshops, awareness campaigns and seminars prior to the presentation of the wheelchairs, and most importantly, professionals from MAARDEC were on hand to ensure that the wheelchairs were properly fitted to those who needed them according to the WHO and USAID guidelines.
This very important partnership which ran from 2005 to 2007 has now been revived and revitalized this year, with 845 (eight hundred and forty five) mobility aids and appliances, comprising; 245 wheelchairs, 280 pairs of armpit crutches, 200 pairs of elbow crutches, and 120 walking frames; and the following states have been penciled down for these mobility aids and appliances in this first phase: Abia, Nasarawa, Edo, Akwa-Ibom, and Ondo States.
Other states will be covered in the subsequent phases. In this revived partnership, MAARDEC will seek for counterpart funding from beneficiary states or other stake holders to cover the following:
1)Cost of clearing and transportation of the container of mobility aids to our storage.
2) Cost of transportation of the mobility aids from our storage to the states for distribution.
3) Logistics for the selection of the beneficiaries.
4) Logistics for distribution in the states, including per diem for the participating professionals.
5) Publicity for the project.
There is a world of difference to be made by empowering persons with disabilities, for they are laden with immense potentials that if properly harnessed, would contribute significantly to the growth of the economy and ultimately to national development.
We at MAARDEC would like to use this medium to thank the Latter Day Saints Charities and all other partners and sponsors who have supported our course and helped us keep the dream of empowering persons with disabilities in Nigeria .