Williette’s Voice Williette Safehouse Liberia Disability Is Not the Inability to Make an Impact

Mr. Beyan G. Kota

Have you thought of how persons with disabilities (PWDs) lived and survived through those cruel years of the Liberian civil war? Did you know that the civil war is a major cause of disabilities and increment in the number of PWDs? 

You might want to read this article to find out!

Williette Safehouse has categorized disabilities into four major categories; intellectual, sensory, mental, and physical disabilities. Intellectual Disabilities affect the ability to learn and reason; Intellectual Disability is defined as a problem that limits learning at an expected level and function in daily life. Children with Intellectual Disabilities might have a hard time letting others know their wants and needs and taking care of themselves.  It could take longer for a child with an Intellectual Disability to learn to speak, walk, dress, or eat without help, and they could have trouble learning in school. Physical Disabilities affect the physical human frame.

Physical Disability limits a person's physical functioning, mobility, dexterity, or stamina. A Physical Disability can be temporary, short–term or long-term. Some conditions may go into remission; others may come and go with no particular pattern, or there may be gradual deterioration. A person may be born with a Physical Disability or acquire it later in life through accident, injury, illness, or side effects of medical treatment.

Mental Disabilities affect the brain or cognitive ability of an individual.

Sensory disabilities affect the five senses. A Sensory Disability is a disability of the senses (e.g., sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste). As 95% of the information about the world around us comes from our sight and hearing, a Sensory Disability can affect how a person gathers information from the world around them. 

The 14 years of civil unrest in Liberia had a devastating consequence on every aspect of the nation, and scars of those dark years continue to linger on the minds of many Liberians and even threaten the nation's growth. However, most Liberians don't know how those bloody years negatively changed most individuals' lives forever. Several individuals acquired different disabilities from the war and are forced to live as a living memory of those cruel years.

Despite these disabilities, many individuals within the Liberian disabled community have made and are still making tremendous strides over the years, thereby making a significant impact within their communities.

This month, we'll be shining the light on an individual who is defying the odds to help his fellow brothers and sisters: Beyan G. Kota of the Christian Association of the Blind.

Before then, let's dig out answers to these questions: what is the total statistic on persons with disabilities in Liberia? What are some causes of disabilities in Liberia?

Available data from a 1997 UNICEF study shows that 16 percent of the population has a disability. Of these, 61% have a mobility disability, 24% are visually impaired, 7% are deaf, and 8% have an intellectual or psychosocial disability. In contrast, the Liberia Labour Survey of 2010 states that people with vision impairment are of high statistics, followed by those with mobility challenges.

In 2014, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) estimated that due to the devastating civil war that ended in 2003 and the Ebola outbreak in 2014, people with disabilities in Liberia are likely closer to 20%. There have been no accurate statistics on the number of persons with disabilities in Liberia before the war and after the war. Researchers have shown that based on the effect of the war, diverse disabilities have shown up, and the most discussed cause has been the civil war, amongst others.

For this month, our highlighted interviewee, Mr. Kota did not gain his disabilities from the war but lived and survived through the war. Regardless of the cruelty and gross humiliation he suffered, he is still strong and making headways in Liberia today.

Mr. Beyan G. Kota is a Lofian by tribal ethnicity. He is formerly Senior Consultant at National Commission on Disabilities, Former National President at Liberia Christian Association of the Blind, President at African Union of the Blind, Studied Senior Management at Optima College and Haywood Mission Industrial School. 

Mr. Beyan G. Kota lost his sight in the early ‘80s when Liberians felt that blind persons should only live and eat. He lived through the war when rebel leaders believed that it was better to execute a disabled person than let them live and “suffer”. 

In our interview, Mr. Kota highlighted that rebels threatened to kill him on several occasions during the war and relieve the entire society of his burdens. However, he was able to persevere.

How did Mr. Kota survive those trying times? How did he succeed in becoming the great man he is today? Keep following Williette Safehouse via the Daily Observer for the remainder of Mr. Kota's story and more inspiring stories of permanent and successful figures in the Liberian Disabled Community.


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