The Pacific Disability Forum has concluded but now the groundwork begins.
Hosted by Nauanua O le Alofa (N.O.L.A.), leaders and advocates of people with disabilities throughout the region were in Samoa to educate, inspire and work to create a more inclusive future for the disabled community.
The official closing ceremony on Thursday night saw the greatest gathering of pioneers from the disability community in the region.
It was held at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel.
At the closing, Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mataafa, was handed a compilation of the outcomes of the Forum.
The idea is that she take them forward to be discussed at the highest level of decision making.
“When I received the invitation to participate at this ceremony, there was a particular purpose to that and that was to receive the outcomes of this meeting,” Fiame said.
“I’m very pleased to be a vessel to be of service to the disabled community and take it forward for the Prime Minister.
“I’m very pleased to join with you this evening. The Honourable Minister and I were also at your official opening, at which was presided over by the Head of State who delivered the key note address for that very special occasion.”
Fiame reiterated the importance of communicating in one’s own language to get the message across. She referred back to the Head of State’s speech.
“He made a point about speaking in our respective languages because part of that which was to say that when we convey our thoughts, our ideas; its very important that we are able to do that in our own languages so that our respective societies and communities can receive those messages,” she said.
“I think he also made the point that couched in our language is also our worldview. We see the world through the lenses of our place and where we are. I think that’s a very important description.
“You may have noticed that I am speaking in English and that is because you’ve had a long week and the last thing you need is two speeches, one in Samoan and one in English. We’re going to be efficient.”
Fiame congratulated everyone involved for what she described as a very successful forum.
“I noticed, Samoa is very reflective about what’s happening around us and maybe a bit slow in developing infrastructures to assist our communities and our people with disability within our own communities,” she said.
“But I think we are moving forward. First of all there is formal recognition and that is the bigger sector that requires government to step in and requires a partnership with them.
“I think very early on, and this is especially for us here in Samoa, was that very strong relationship that persons with disabilities should take the leadership in taking these matters.”