By CLEOPATRA EDEKI
Pastor Ben Akabueze of The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), The King’s Court, Victoria lsland, Lagos has noted that there is a great need to show compassion and cater for people with disabilities as individuals, groups and religious organisations since the government cannot do this alone.
He made the call at the launch of a Disability Inclusion event tagged as Diversity Sunday at The Kings Court, saying: “Since we have over 27 million people living with disabilities in Nigeria, the governments have a lot to do to cater for them.
But today in our own spaces and environments, we should start to do some things for them, not waiting for the government.” Akabueze added:” Although we are different in physical and mental abilities, never discriminate or look down on them because God has richly endowed everybody including the special persons with great talents, gifts and purpose to benefit the society.
“Today, The Kings Court welcomes everyone with disabilities with loving and open arms. Though we are different, we are one in Christ. The Church has sign language interpreters, volunteers, braille bibles, wheel chairs, and more to ensure the comfort of persons with disabilities.”
The event included celebrating the diverse abilities of persons with disabilities through song ministration, dance, testimonies among others. On the occasion, 17 visually impaired persons received white canes from the church, free gift packs for all participants among other foods and drinks.
Mr. Jake Epelle, Chief Executive Officer and founder, Albino Association of Nigeria and a special guest, relieved his plight as a person living with Albinism. Among the negative ordeals are isolation, neglect, self-education, abuses, domestic accidents, hurtful jests from school mates and society.
He encouraged the audience to read more about Albinism and special persons and to relate with the first as humans beings created by God instead of discrimination. Epelle disclosed that he would retire in a few years and groom persons to continue with the foundation’s legacy and businesses to concentrate on his pastoral service.
Pastor Dapo Fesayo, Head of Protocol, observed that most persons are so engrossed with life challenges, families, finance and oftentimes forget about people with disabilities around them and outside the church. He thanked God for putting the Disability inclusion drive into Pastor Akabueze’s mind and for his spearheading the laudable initiative, The Trumpet gathered.
He added: “God made us bright and beautiful; so we should love everyone regardless of colour, size, background or tribe. “The Redeemed Christian Church of God has an Economic Kingdom Summit every January to empower everyone including people with disabilities.
There is another annual Kingdom Summit in October, with the Disability Inclusion event too. We also have a free health care and treatment event for next week Sunday. They are invited too.” There was also an ex hibition of various crafts done by persons with disabilities.
Among them were Wesley Schools of the Hearing l and II, Federal Nigeria Society of the Blind, Bethesda Home for the Blind and African Craft Shop Nigeria.
They all displayed their different crafts such as handmade slippers, sandals, beaded bags, key holders, soap, hand sanitizers, Batik, tie and dye, designed clothes, materials, accessories made by students, people and communities of people with disabilities.
Speaking, Mr. Kelly Blind, a radio OAP, urged government at all levels to support persons with disabilities and not only pay lip service, “Specially, the Federal and Niger Delta States governments to build schools, infrastructures for them,” he urged. According to him, as an indigene of the Niger Delta regions, blessed with the oil, he regrets that there are neither special schools for the blind and deaf nor even vocational training for people with disabilities.”
Sadly, most people with disabilities are languishing and unproductive in those regions,” he stated. Kelly the Blind disclosed that he has been leading the cause of people with disabilities through his radio programme for over seven years with stiff opposition from various quarters.
He emphasized that there are millions of special persons in Nigeria but despite the Disability Bills, these are not well catered for. Mr Adebayo Muritala David, Creative Director, African Craft Shop Nigeria and a visually impaired man, charged the government to do more by giving scholarships to children of people with disabilities and empowering others with vocational skills according to their interests.
He disclosed that he is based in Osogbo, Osun State and he has been training clusters of persons with disabilities in his community but not sustainable due to lack of funds. He recalled his bitter experience from family and society for being blind and as a Christian from a Muslim background. But God stood for him and his family and so he will never denounce his Christian faith, he added.