Celebrating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities – 3rd December.
The Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Muslim Aid Sri Lanka, and the British Council Sri Lanka hosted a Disability Action Forum 2019, to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December) at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute, Colombo 7.
The Disability Forum 2019 was the extension of Active Citizen Priyankha Jeyaraj’s social action project Nethraloka, which began as a project to empower and bring awareness about the visually impaired. Priyankha is an Active Citizen and Facilitator of British Council’s Active Citizens programme; and the Head of Volunteers for Muslim Aid Sri Lanka.
Team Muslim Aid, the organization’s dedicated volunteer team, under the leadership of Ms.Priyankha and support from the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Muslim Aid Sri Lanka and British Council Sri Lanka, organized the forum featuring wonderful performances by participants from two schools that serve the needs of disabled persons, especially children, by providing special education, rehabilitation and vocational training. The forum served as a platform for the youth from these institutes to showcase their talents.
The event started off with a registration process designed to be inclusive for disabled persons, and everyone had to go through a voting scenario that included use of a wheel chair, cane etc to show how the disable are included in the process of voting and how their rights can be exercised and preserved.It also reinforced the message that inclusion is paramount in every aspect of life, in every building, workplace, homes and even on the roads, if we are to uphold and preserve their rights.
Election Commissioner and Chairman of Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Mr.Mahinda Deshapriya, graced the event and delivered his keynote speech on the significance of the day and inclusion in the elections process and empathy.
Muslim Aid Sri Lanka has supported disabled persons and their families through income generation, water and sanitation and volunteer projects, since 2015. Speaking at the event Mr. Faizer Khan, Country Director of Muslim Aid Sri Lanka said
“We need to think about ways of supporting persons with disability in better ways than welfare and charity. We need to provide them access and space, but change the way of approaching them with sympathy. We must include them into our mainstream society by action, and empower them in ways to be independent financially and socially; so that they will be part of our society, rather than be welfare receivers or depend on others. They could become tax payers to the country and their productivity will be added to the country’s economy”.