Measles epidemic cancels Day of Persons with Disabilities
The celebration of the annual International Day of Persons with Disabilities in Samoa has been cancelled due to the measles crisis state of emergency.
This was confirmed by the President of the Deaf Association, Josefa Sokovagone, in an interview with Samoa Observer.
The theme for this year’s celebration is "Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda."
The theme focuses on the empowerment of persons with disabilities for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which pledges to ‘leave no one behind’ and recognizes disability as a cross-cutting issues.
Mr. Sokovagone highlighted that the significance of this international day, it is for every persons with disabilities in Samoa to unite and advocate over their rights.
“Some people are not aware that we are also included in this society and to be included we must also have the same opportunities as everyone else whether it is education or employment,” he stated.
"We had plans of celebrating but the health of our people is more important."
The 35-year-old from Alafua added that some people have the mentality that because some people have disabilities it automatically means they cannot be educated or employed.
“We want to advocate that we can achieve and succeed and they cannot just look down and discriminate against us.
“We want equal rights and opportunities and being included in everything. My mission in terms of my role is to focus on the younger generations whether they have disabilities or not.
“I want the children to have education opportunities so that when they grow up they will have something to do in life.”
The father of three added that it is significant for the children to equal rights to education despite having a disability.
“Children with disabilities can get an education, have a degree and be employed. Speaking from experience, I also faced the same obstacles, I was told that I cannot be educated, have no job or get a wife.
“Well years later, I have a job and a wife with three children.
“A challenge I have faced within my association is that not many people know or have any knowledge of sign language which is how I communicate.”
He said that language barrier is a big challenge but there is hope that others can learn how to speak through sign language.