By: Stephen G. Fellajuah
Calm has been restored at the National Commission on Disabilities (NCD), when the Commission and the War Affected Victims on Tuesday September 6, 2022 settled their difference and embraced unison which pave the way for the inclusion of over fifty nine persons of the war victims on the national empowerment program of the NCD.
Already the National Commission on Disabilities has empowered eight hundred and eighty five disabled persons through its national empowerment initiative.
The NCD recently launched an initial US$250,000 empowerment project for people with disabilities in Liberia. The project is an initiative of the government of Liberia aimed at improving and sustaining the livelihood of disabled people across Montserrado County.
It may be recalled last week members of the War Affected Victims stormed the offices of the Commission and blocked the Tubman Boulevard in Congo Town, in peaceful protest on ground that they have not been included in the national empowerment program. Phase one of the project is intended to empower disables in Montserrado County.
During the protest, the group alleged that the Executive Director of the National Commission on Disabilities, Amb. Daintowon Domah Pay-Baye excluded them from the empowerment program. They demanded to be included in all aspects of the project.
However, in the quest to resolve the misunderstanding and make the project inclusive, the NCD and the War Affected Victim yesterday held a round table reconciliation dialogue and promised to work together to move the institution forward with focus on the progress of persons with disabilities.
Addressing a major press conference after the peace talk, Amb. Daintowon Domah Pay-Bayee said that the empowerment program has provided scholarships, training empowerment, health and other assistance for members of the disabled community in Montserrado and its environs.
According to her, through the empowerment project phase one, they have also purchased kekeh, motor bikes and empower small businesses owners to enable them to become self-reliant as the project seeks so that they can no longer get on the street to beg for handouts.
‘’We have instituted a nine men committee and they have identified the first fifty persons from the War Victims and have now grouped themselves and we are going to be working with them to have them empowered along with the nine members of the team.
We are also going to be working with the deaf because they too are suffering despite not being in the street but are in the communities doing domestic chores’’ she highlighted further.
Amb. Pay-Bayee motivated the War Affected Victims, saying ‘’ they are not left out of the empowerment program and will never be; rather they all will work to ensure that others are included in the next project.
The NCD Chairperson revealed that the Commissioner will shortly be extending the empowerment gesture to Gbarpolu, Nimba, Grand Bassa, Bong, Margibi, Lofa, because disabled people other parts of the country have communicated with the Commission, saying they have organised themselves for the next stage of the project.
She at the same time expressed her frustration over the behavior of some of the beneficiaries, when she said, “Some of the people we helped with kekeh packed it gone back on the street to beg, using the kekeh as shelter that which got the War Affected Victims aggrieved and prompted them to protest.”
Many of you saw the protest that day and it was not beggars, they are people with good technical skills and others are also on the amputee team. The idea of this was to ensure that we all come to a level to be able to ask people to help us’’ she added.
Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the War Affected Victims, the Spokesman of the group James B. Smith expressed excitement over the dialogue and said they are happy to form part of the project.
‘’We are happy that today you have clarified and explained everything that we need to know because that was what we protested. We are committed to this peace talk that we had and we will make sure that we all work together as one’’, Mr. Smith assured.