Nagaland stands with her Special Children

Morung Express News 
Kohima/Dimapur | December 3

Minister for Health & Family Welfare Kuzholuzo Nienu today assured that the government will render all possible efforts to help disabled people in the state. “Whatever facility is available, it will reach out to you,” he assured while speaking at the World Disability Day here held under the aegis of Enable. Enable, is a group working to create awareness and fight for the rights of people with special needs.

The minister also called upon the people to step forward and extend help and support to disabled persons, saying that they are the people who need love, care and above all the prayer of the people. Urging parents to love and trust, Nienu however, asked them not to always ‘spoon-feed’ but try and help develop their abilities. ‘Until and unless we try we will not be able to know our ability’, he said and further requested parents to trust their children’ he said. “I believe they can do it” he added. 

Earlier, people joined the “Walk for Change,” which started at the Old MLA Hostel junction and culminated at The Heritage. 

The walkers held high their slogans that people with disabilities deserve equal access to education and that all children have a right to education. “Yes, my child has special needs,” one read. “Disability poses no limits to learning” another reminded. 

Ilika Zhimomi, special educator for Hope Centre in Kohima, in her speech pointed to the need for adequate medical care, counseling and vocational training to disabled persons. She said early intervention is necessary in reaching to the children with special needs.

Enable has submitted a memorandum to the minister, pleading special attention for persons with disabilities in matters of employment, education and creating an unprejudiced environment as per relevant laws. It prayed to the government to immediately form a state coordination committee, adding that as per the PWD Act, 1995, it is mandatory for the government to form such a committee to serve as the state’s focal point on disability matters. It is also to facilitate continuous evolution of a comprehensive policy towards solving problems faced by persons with disabilities besides other functions.

“However, even after more than a decade of passing the Act, no such committee is formed till date,” the memorandum regretted. The memorandum also prayed for a resource centre to cater to the various needs of people with disabilities such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, Autism, learning and writing disability like dyslexia, hearing and vision impaired.

It also requested attending to the needs of the medical department and ensure that the children in the state are screened periodically for assessment and treatment of various disabilities; facilities for training to the staff and to undertake surveys, investigations, and research concerning the cause of occurrence of disabilities.

‘Human spirit can never be handicapped’
On International Day of Persons with Disability in Dimapur, Additional Secretary for Education, Banuo Z Jamir, commended on the positive and strong spirit of the people which gave legal recognition to this section of the society through the Nagaland Communitization Act, 2002. Within this fabric, she said, the community also takes care of the disabled and such care can only ensure existence.

‘But many of our communities still tend to hide children who have a disability, believing it is a curse, and as Christians, Nagas must remove this mindset’, she said. Banuo pointed out there is still general lack of sensitivity to the requirements which enhance the quality of life of such persons and to make them accepted members of a community. 

With an estimated 5% of the population living with disability and a target population of 20,000 in the state (2001 census), Banuo expressed happiness that the community that organized the programme has come up with a reminder that something needs to be done. “It is only when stakeholders in any enterprise get involved, that things might get into shape,” the state official said. She spoke about the spirited involvement of the community and stakeholders and said there is need for a partnership with the government, in different departments to draw up realistic programmes so that the quality of lives of those with disabilities can be enhanced, as far as possible to include them as equal members of the society. ‘Very often policy makers and movers do something without understanding realistically the needs of such people and the implementation becomes merely fixing targets and achieving those targets, which is why there is need for partnership’ she said. She also pointed to the importance of learning Braille, and said the state needs to build on it as well. 

The programme organized by Prodigals Home, Handicapped Union, Living Bread Ministry, Akimbo Society and the Blind Association gathered at the IMC Hall in Dimapur and witnessed performances by Ajung and Akheli, both visually impaired and a host of other participants. The additional secretary also brought officers of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiya to find ways to partner with non-governmental organizations and stakeholders under the various activities of the SSA. The special schools in the state catering to children with identified disabilities were also represented. 

A memorandum to the Government of Nagaland on issues of disabled people was submitted to Banuo Z Jamir.