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SFTH Climaxes Autism Awareness

The Author and Zwannah, First Autism Classroom, an initiative of Straight from the Heart International over the weekend climaxed a month-long community awareness on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Liberia. 

The program which took place on Saturday, April 30, 2022, at the newly renovated office of the organization in the Bernard Farm community, Omega, Paynesville brought together community members, and students from at least three junior high schools within the community, children with autism-like disorder and their parents.

Serving as keynote speaker of the occasion, Ms. Luana Korvah of the department of Mental Health, Ministry of Health congratulated Straight from the Heart International for organizing such a unique initiative and remaining committed to supporting people, especially children in such conditions.  She said the government is not able to reach out to every community and as such, it is the duty of civil society organizations to complement the efforts of the government.  She showered praises on the institution for taking up the challenge in the midst of numerous challenges.

Madam Korvah used the occasion to conscientize community dwellers and the student populace against stigmatization and discrimination of people living with disability.  She pointed out that no disability is not communicable disease for the public to avoid such people.  She said such people also need love, care and affection in order to develop and become useful in society.

Speaking on behalf of the Founder and Executive Director Madam Agnes Fallah Kamara, the Administrator of the organization, Atty. Michael Gebeh emphasized that the challenge ahead was enormous to ensure that children with autism spectrum disorder get the relevant attention.  He said the first challenge is for the community to accept people living with such disorder, after which the issue of their welfare can be tackled.  He noted that during the month-long awareness campaign, it was realized that even families with children in such conditions were not willing to accept them and as such, they keep them in isolation and in most cases, under appalling conditions.

“These children can develop into useful and productive citizens but we, first of all, have to change our perception towards them” he noted.  “For now, we are focusing on awareness and once we get the requisite support, we will put them in a classroom, develop or enhance policies on their wellbeing and put in place programs that will support them so that they are no longer a burden to their families and the society at large” he added. Talking about the challenges faced by the institutions, Atty. Gebeh highlighted the need for logistics for operations, trained medical and education staff amongst others.  He lauded the volunteers of the organization to continue to work tirelessly in improving the welfare of children with autism and similar disorders.  He also admonished the government as well as other national and international partners to support the working of the organization so that public perception and the lives of people living with disability can be transformed.     

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The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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