By Fru Rita Ngum
Partner Organizations (POs) of the Empowerment and Disability Inclusive Development Programme (EDID) of the CBC Health Services have underscored the importance of networking and creation of Associations of Parents of Children with Disabilities as some of the strategies to get development stakeholders involved in the empowerment of children with disabilities. The POs from Yaounde, Bafoussam, Nkongsamba, Douala, Bandjoun, North and Far North regions were speaking during a mid-year evaluation meeting that held at PROMHANDICAM premises (Mimboman) in Yaounde from the 14th to 15th of July, 2016
Given that POs started implementing activities in the first half of the year in accordance with new policies of the Liliane Foundation, the objective of this mid-year review meeting was to reflect on results in line with the new policy, appreciate them for strides made, share experiences and also facilitate regular networking so that ideas can always easily be shared across the Partner Organizations as well as re-strategize for the next half of the year.
The EDID Programme Manager, Mrs. Agho Glory congratulated the POs for their hard work and commitment demonstrated during the first half of 2016 which has been reflected in the quality of the reports and field visits conducted by field supervision staff.
The EDID boss reminded the POs that the new approach is targeted to empower children with disabilities through the Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) components of health, education, social and livelihood while intentionally removing all the barriers from the environment that are causing disabilities. She reiterated that the new core strategy of the Programme is Child Empowerment which is implemented through two approaches – child development and providing an enabling environment.
Mrs. Agho noted that this new approach of the Liliane Foundation is still very strange to some of the POs especially those who have been so much involved with the old approach for several years. She however remarked that those who have understood the new approach and are already implementing it are attesting to the fact that it is the best way forward for children, youths and persons with disabilities in general.
Drilling the participants on the fundamental strategy of the Programme, the EDID Programme Officer, Mr. Kamga André emphasized that all the POs must uphold the new polices which are based on international norms like United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, International Classification of Function, Disease and Health and the April 2010 law in Cameroon.
The EIDID Programme Officer stressed that the Programme supports children from birth to 25 years. He encouraged the POs to form associations of parent of children with disabilities in the community.
POs revealed that they still face challenges like the lack of understanding by parents, inadequate communication and rejection of children with disabilities in the community, among others.
EDID Programme Manager, Mrs. Agho told the POs that one of the ways to get parents committed is to be transparent to them. “If for example a partner organization pays the fee of a child with a disability and the parent is not aware how much was paid and how much is left, the parent will always believe that the intervention is free.”
EDID Programme Manager appreciated the POs for their contributions and charged them to carefully implement all that they learned in their various organizations for the benefit of the children and youths with disabilities.
The President of an association of parent of children with disability also had an opportunity to share his experiences on how the association has been networking with the government, doing advocacy at the level of the ministry, churches, and mosques, mobilizing funds to improve on the lives of children with disabilities and encouraging parents to be committed in the care of their children.
For his part, the Director of PROHAMDICAM, Father Sergio Janeselli appreciated the CBCHS and Liliane Foundation for their efforts in improving on the quality of lives of children with disability. He encouraged partners to do all it takes to implement the new approach because, “Even though the old approach was simpler to implement, the new approach is better for inclusive development.”
The meeting was also marked by the closing ceremony of the inclusive holiday classes at PROHAMDICAM during which the EDID Programme Manager appreciated the children without disabilities for interacting and facilitating the work of the children with disabilities. She encouraged the children without to be ambassadors of an inclusive society wherever they find themselves.
At the end of the meeting, the POs expressed joy for the chance to come together to learn from each other and promised to break through the challenges and achieve the objectives of the Liliane Foundation. They have committed to create a networking group like Whatsapp or Yahoo group which will enable them to share their challenges and experiences.