Government Social Workers acting as Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) field workers with the Empowerment, Disability and Inclusive Development (EDID) Programme of the CBC Health Services have taken a commitment to foster the rehabilitation of persons with disability in their communities. By this commitment, they promised to create awareness on the inclusion of persons with disability in mainstream activities in their communities, identify and assess persons with disability, and refer them to stakeholders and organizations working with persons living with disability including the EDID Programme. This was at the end of a four day workshop that took place from September 8-11, 2015 at Baptist Hospital Mutengene (BHM).
The workshop that brought together five participants from Manyu and Lebialem divisions of the Southwest Region had as objective to develop the capacity of the participants to provide intervention and carry out advocacy that is intended to change the perception of the community members on disability among others.
Presenting the overview of the EDID Programme, the Manager Mrs. Agho Glory said it was started in the CBC Health Services in October 2014 and seeks to empower children and youths with disabilities aged 0-25 years so that they can become actively involved in the development process of their families, communities, society and nation at large. This is done by supporting them to have access to education, health care, livelihood opportunities and relevant social services through partner organizations.
The EDID Programme Manager disclosed that thanks to its funding partner, Liliane Foundation based in the Netherlands, the programme provides financial, technical and material support to partner organizations who in turn provide same to target beneficiaries, their parents, community and society. She called on the social workers to identify different stakeholders that can intervene at each level in their communities reiterating that there is no one organization that can take care of all persons with disability. Mrs. Agho also schooled the participants on financial management within the context of the EDID Programme.
Participants identified some of the barriers that persons with disabilities face such as attitudinal, physical, institutional, and communication. They acquired skills on how to break these barriers by sensitizing the public about the rights of persons with disabilities, advocacy, networking with relevant community stakeholders and ensuring mainstreaming of children and youngsters with disabilities in all sectors.
Drilling the participants on assessment and management of disability, the Chief Medical Officer for BHM, Dr. Ndasi Henry noted that the involvement of persons with disability, their families and the community is very important in creating a disability programme in the community. Dr. Ndasi said poor feeding and lack of vaccination are some of the causes of disability.
The founder of the Nicky Foundation based in Mamfe, Nicky Smith shared her experiences working with persons with disability in the area of networking and referrals. The Foundation which is out to sponsor children with disability in school and provide medical intervention is partnering with the EDID Programme in order to complement each other and avoid the duplication of services.
The CBR Supervisor for CBC Health Services, Mr. Kenchi Joseph noted that advocacy is very essential for the social workers as they do their work. He said they must advocate to change perceptions in the communities, policies and to enable persons with disability have access to services. He also drilled the participants on how to fill the need assessment forms.
Earlier, the Head of the Eye Department at BHM, Mr. Fai Samuel lectured the participants on how to identify people with eye problems and refer in order to prevent visual impairment. This was demonstrated in a practical session led by Mr. Fai and Mr. Kenchi during which participants were tested on how to do visual acuity and how to rehabilitate persons with visual impairments
Speaking at the close of the training, the EDID Programme Manager thanked the participants for their attendance and called on them to network with other organizations. They were equally charged to put the lessons learnt into practice in order to improve on the lives of persons with disability. The participants appreciated EDID Programme for building their capacities.
Engaging government social workers as CBR workers, is a strategy to facilitate the involvement of the government in disability related issues in order to ensure sustainability.