Advocates for people with disability recognised

Marie Enosa is the 2018 Disability Champion of the year. 

The 29-year-old from Vaoala got the top honours during the Nuanua o le Alofa (NOLA) Disability Human Rights Award 2018, which was held last Thursday evening at Tanoa Tusitala Hotel in Apia. 

Marie is a volunteer for the deaf community at the Senese inclusive education facility is an interpreter for the deaf community and is a board member of Samoa Deaf Association and Sign Language Interpreters.

“I have been translating through the sign language for ten years, I was able to learn sign language from the deaf community, because the more I was involved with them — the deeper my understanding was that I acquired from them.

“Even though translating is a really tough job; it comes with so many challenges but I have to endure it all.

“Due to the fact that I have a heart for the deaf community, they are vulnerable in terms of them missing out on so much happening around them because they cannot communicate with their families,” she said. 

Marie has dedicated her life to championing the voice of the deaf community to the world, but more importantly help them understand what is happening around them.

“Sign language is the noblest gift God has given to the deaf community,” she said in an interview. 

Other awards presented the previous night included the 2018 Government Ministry of the Year Award, which was won by the Samoa Bureau of Statistics.

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My Girls Club was awarded the Non-government Organisation Award. 

The president of the club, Gustav Su’a, said that they support the work done by N.O.L.A. to ensure Samoa is a barrier-free and is a rights-based society for persons with disabilities.

The Inclusive Community of the Year Award 2018 was won by ANZ Bank while Francis Sasulu Vaigalepa from TV1 took the Media Coverage of the Year Award 2018.

The Minister for Women Community and Social Development, Faimalotoa Iemaima Kika Stowers-Ah Kau, said that the awards serves as a recognition of hard work and the valuable contribution of individuals, non-governmental organisations (NOG’s), private sector organisations, and Government agencies — that promote and advocate for the rights of people with disabilities in Samoa.

“This is the fifth annual special award ceremony, and NOLA could not continue to host this event without your support and assistance.

“The ratification of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by our Government is a clear indication of Government’s commitment to promote equal opportunities, as well as protection of rights of persons with disabilities. 

“The Women Community and Social Development — being the focal point for disabilities in Samoa — continues to support the work of NOLA and all initiatives, to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities in Samoa,” she said. 

Faimalotoa added that the awards bears witness to the outcomes of hard work, and outgoing support of some individuals, NGOs, private sector organisations, and Government agencies in the development of people with disabilities in Samoa.

“I therefore wish to thank all our special award winners this evening, for your valuable contribution and support in promoting and advocating for equal opportunities as well as protection of rights of people with disabilities in Samoa.

“I wish to take this opportunity to thank all our development partners, private sector organisations and Government agencies, for all the hard work and initiatives to support the development of people with disabilities in Samoa.

“A special acknowledgement with thanks and much thanks and appreciation, of the support and assistance of the Government of Australia, through the Samoa Disability Program which provides funding work of the NOLA. We hope and pray that you will continue to lend a helping hand in the future,” she added.

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