|Grace Fomuluh is also a militant of the CPDM|
But this theme is fraught with barriers, according to a leading campaigner for the rights of physically challenged persons.
“When they talk of removing barriers, we have psychological, financial educational and environmental barriers,” Grace Fomuluh who is the Managing Director of the National Center for the Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities (CNRPH) said.
Fomuluh regretted that most people seem to ignore these and “society is creating more barriers than bridges for persons with disabilities to cross”
Fomuluh spoke to NewsWatch when she opened a one-day workshop on inclusive education for all at the National Center for the Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities (CNRPH) in Yaounde recently.
In Cameroon with a total population of about 20 million, people with disabilities constitute 15%; about three out of the twenty million Cameroonians.
If Cameroonians truly want an inclusive society in which physically challenged persons steer affairs that their fully fledged counterparts are given pride of place in, children with disabilities shouldn’t be locked away, Fomuluh explained.
She added “we just listened to the testimony of a mother of a child with disabilities who said she stigmatized herself. She chains her at home because wherever she goes with the child, she is seen as a nuisance to the public.”
Grace Fomuluh vehemently discourages such heinous and archaic practices. “For a person we are building an inclusive society for, that person does not deserve to be locked up in the room. So the first point is to sensitize the population on their attitude towards people with disabilities.”
Families that have members with disabilities should treat them like human beings, she advised.
“Look into their situation right from the very early ages, even from the time when the children are in the womb because the question we should be asking ourselves is: How do some of these disabilities come about?”, Fomuluh reiterated.
According to the Managing Director of CNRPH, “If you see a young girl who takes in and is unwilling to keep the pregnancy because it was unexpected, she will look for a means to remove the baby and when it doesn’t come out the next thing is that she could bring forth a child with disabilities”
“And when these children come out they are treated as though they chose to come out with those deficiencies.”
To policy makers, Grace Fomuluh also had a message: “we have realized even in Yaoundé that, there are institutions where our children are forced to stay in the same class after they are promoted from to the next class because the class to which he or she has been promoted to found upstairs and not accessible to the child because of his or her deficiency.”
“Everything should be done to give these kids access to education so they too should feel Cameroonians at all levels of their lives for they did not choose to be disabled”.
By organizing this round table, Fomuluh said, “we feel that by the end of the day the people who are here will serve as ambassadors to this institution and to many other institutions in Cameroon because we also have private welfare institutions that cater to the needs of children with disabilities. The founders of those institutions are here with us so that when they go back they will preach the same message to whoever they meet”.