The Association of Disabled Females International (ADFI) in Liberia has sued (called on someone formally for something) the government—with emphasis on the National Legislature—to ensure that a bill in support of their welfare is removed from the back-burner—where it obviously has picked up some moss—and pass it into law.
The bill, according to the ‘disabled’ women, has been lying in a committee room at the National Legislature, ever since it was submitted, early last year.
The bill was sponsored by a Maryland County Representative, Isaac B. Roland and Montserrado County lawmaker Muna Pelham Youngblood.
It raised issues relative to war reparations (reimbursement, compensation) and the establishment of a War Victims’ Trust Fund for disabled females in the country.
The ADFI already operates in the country, in collaboration with war-survivors; it also seeks reparations (war-damages) for other kinds of war victims.
The renewed appeal to members of the 53rd National Legislature, to fast-track the passage of the bill seeking to establish a War Victims’ Trust Fund at the national level was made by Ms. Meimai Hoff, ADFI executive director of ADFi.
According to Ms. Hoff, when the bill is passed, government would be obliged to offer some compensation to war victims across the country—something, she says is done in international circle.
Demands for reimbursement came in vogue (fashionable, a trend) after Germany lost World War I, and the victors, including the UK, France, and Russia—later joined by the US, Italy and Japan, (the Allies), defeated the Central Powers, including Germany Austria and Hungary.
The allies they demanded reimbursement for the loss and damage they sustained from the war.
The cost to Germany—the main instigator of the war—was 22 billion pounds that took Germany 92 years to deliver. Final repayment ended on October 3, 2010.
“Since 2005, we have had a stable government with good governance, headed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,” Ms Hoff continued.
Against that backdrop, Liberian war-victims are hopeful that something will be done to give them a leg up as they try to rebuild their lives.
This is why we are appealing to our lawmakers to revisit the bill, flung into the committee room so long ago,” the head of disabled females lamented.
Ms. Hoff went on to remind President Sirleaf to reinforce her commitment to urge ministries and agencies to employ people with disabilities.
The female leader of the ADFI made these recent appeals during an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer. The interview took place at the close of a program that marked the end of a day-long workshop, at which the disabled community was targeted for public education, in preparation for the pending October (2014) special election.
The first in the series of such exercises, the workshop was facilitated by the National Elections Commission (NEC) and hosted at the ADFI Headquarters in Slipway, Central Monrovia.
ADFI executive director Hoff told this paper that the essence of the workshop was to educate members of the disabled community about procedures toward exercising their rights at polling centers when, election time comes around.
Over 61 disabled participants from various communities and townships in Monrovia and environs attended the ‘educative program,’ with the intent of sharpening their awareness on ‘how to proceed (go on) to the ballot box,’ come election season.
“We want the disabled, especially the females with various forms of disabilities, to be informed about how to participate in the upcoming election,” Ms. Hoff explained.
According to the social worker, the exercise was also intended to reawaken the disabled and get them involved in doing the right thing, when it comes to voting.
She reiterated that people with disabilities need a disable-friendly environment to go about exercising their inalienable (undeniable) rights in keeping with the Constitution of Liberia.
Ms Hoff observed, however, that during the conduct of the 2005 and 2011 general and presidential elections, most of the polling centers and precincts were not disable-friendly enough to allow people with disabilities to cast their votes.
“This time around,” she continued, “the ADFI has decided to begin taking some corrective measures to enable the disabled participate in the electoral process, without any constraints.
She added that there are more disabled female non-voters, compared to their male counterparts; therefore, there was a need to identify disabled females and train them to ensure their involvement, beginning with the approaching October exercise.
(With an assist from Keith Neville A. Best)