Govt believes in equality for all Guyanese – President

…as Region 5 disabled persons seek more resources

President David Granger on Sunday told members of the Mahaica-Berbice (Region Five) Disabled Persons Network that Government believes in equal opportunities for all Guyanese and that every person must have equal access to public services.

The President made these comments during a meeting with the group at the

President David Granger listens as the persons living with disabilities voice their concerns during the meeting on Sunday

Carmichael Centre in Seafield, West Coast Berbice, where the members shared with him several concerns affecting the group and sought the President’s assistance to improve conditions for disabled persons in the Region.

“Every person must be treated as equal and must have access to the public services of this country…so that if you have lost your sight or your mobility, it doesn’t mean you have become less equal. You remain an equal citizen with the same rights as any person in Guyana,” the President said.

As such, the President said that persons with disabilities must, therefore, be given the resources available to improve access to the services and opportunities afforded to all citizens. “In this case, we need to consider special education for persons who have different abilities… This means that if it is challenging for you to attend the schools, we must make special arrangements and this is something we must not ignore. Your education should not be left behind simply because of disability… We have to look at individual disabilities if we are to ensure that people get access to the good things the Government has to offer,” the President said.

The Head of State also said that Government would explore options that can improve the ability of persons with disabilities to become financially independent. “There are so many things you can do if you are given the equipment… so you don’t have to ask people for help, so that you can generate your own income… We believe in equality and employment for all and we believe in special education and we believe in providing that equality, which would allow you to work without depending on favours,” he said.

Mahaica-Berbice (Region Five) Disabled Persons Network Chairman Mark Archibald, who chaired the meeting, outlined several concerns that were affecting persons with disabilities in the Region. Chief among the issues is the need for bigger premises to house the group’s office, since the current building serves as a community centre as well as the group’s main meeting place. Archibald said that the building was too small for the 60-plus members of the group, which was steadily growing. Additionally, Archibald said that the building has only one entrance, which makes it unsafe in the event of an emergency. “We try to provide skills training for persons with disabilities in the areas of joinery, computer training and other areas… We want persons with disabilities to develop their own lives and not be burdens to their families. These things can only be possible if we are able to have a proper building to conduct these activities,” Archibald said.

He said that the group was presented with a plot of land by the previous Administration, but a lack of funds has prohibited them from proceeding with construction. Other issues highlighted included the provision of a bus specially designed for persons with disabilities to aid in transportation of not only the members of the Network but other persons with disabilities in the Region.

The Network also requested access to a trained healthcare professional to tend to their health needs during emergencies and a first aid kit. The need for computers to assist in Information Technology (IT) training of members was also mentioned, as well as the need for a review of certain areas of the Disabilities Act to provide more inclusivity to persons with disabilities.

In response to their concerns, the President said that although monies have already been allocated for the year 2017 in the Budget, he would look into the various matters to see what resources could be provided to address their concerns.