United Blind Association cries abandonment
By Naneka A. Hoffman
The Principal of the United Blind Association school in Gardnersville outside Monrovia Wilfred Gewon has accused the Weah administration of abandoning the Association.
Principal Gewon reveals that since the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change-led government took power five years ago, the United Blind Association has not received a dime from President Weah, lamenting that even the President’s State of the Nation Address, he didn’t mention people with disability or the disabled community.
Speaking in a joint interview with KNTV on Tuesday, January 31, Mr. Gewon recalled that during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, members of the UBA received US$10,000 annually as support to the school.
However, he said since the Weah administration took office, they have not received a dime, adding that they have paid repeated visits to the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Gender, and other places without getting any explanation why the government stopped support to the school.
However, Mr. Gewon called on government to prioritize the education of people with disability, stressing they are Liberian citizens and entitled to equal and quality education like any other citizen.
He said despite being visually impaired, they have the right to life, education, better living, and health, in line with the Constitution of Liberia and the United Nations Convention on persons living with disability, adding that Liberia is signatory to said convention, including other rights instruments.
The visually-impaired educator notes that Liberians are going to elections in October and that the Weah administration in the past five years has not paid attention to their plight.
He said members of the Association have been surviving by donations from churches, humanitarian groups and individuals.
“I am calling on the government to give us direct attention so that those children can’t become beggars in the streets. They can become educators and contribute to the society and their life”, he urged.
Meanwhile, Mr. Gewon cautioned persons living with disability to vote wisely comes October, adding “because we have been forgotten and yourself will make that decision on how you are being taken care of or treated for the five to six years. So, my advice to the disability community is to vote for leaders that will always think about plight of persons with disability because if you do research, persons with disability are the poorest below the poverty line. If we are given attention by national government, our lives will change and improve.”
The United Blind Association is a member of the National Commission on People with Disability in Liberia, but he said the UBA on receives rice with no financial support to the school.
Specifically, Mr. Gewon wants government to make budgetary allotment for the school of the blind at the UBA.
Besides the United Blind Association of Liberia, there are other groups of people with disabilities in the country, including the Christian Association of the Blind (CAB) headed by Mr. Beyan Kota, the Group of 77 on Newport Street and the Liberia Albino Association, among others. Editing by Jonathan Browne