2013 International day of persons with disability: Faryab

The International Day of Persons with Disability was celebrated in style on the third of December in Maimana.  The event was a joint effort by several organizations, including the Community-Based Rehabilitation Project, representatives of the Independent Commission on Human Rights, the deputy governor of Faryab, and the Presidency of Martyrs and Disabled. 

In preparation for the celebration, the deputy governor called a special meeting of all relevant organizations, and requested (no pressure, of course!) each to donate what they could for the celebration.  IAM’s Community Based Rehabilitation project volunteered to feed the celebrants, and several NGO’s donated money or food towards gifts for people with disabilities.  A guest list of 150 was prepared, invitations sent out… and 300 attended!  But thankfully the food stretched to everyone.

Although, the ED and his wife flew over Maimana in hopes of attending the celebration, their plane couldn’t land due to the clouds.  The ED’s speech was read by the expatriate consultant, Ruth, and translated by the project manager, Tawfiqullah.  The speech described some of the barriers that people with disabilities face, and what we can do to help “break down barriers and open doors for an inclusive society for all,” the theme of this year’s celebration.  The speech closed with the statement, “This is what is pleasing to God,” which surprised the attendees.  This part of the speech was televised locally several times over the following week. 

A variety of speeches were given by important people speaking about disability and what is needed to improve their lives.  We felt the highlights came at the end of the meeting, when people with disabilities had their turn – the captain of the wheelchair basketball team spoke about the history of the Maimana team and requested continued community support for recreational facilities for people with disabilities, the children in our preschool for children with developmental problems sang an Afghan song similar to “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” and our teachers and students demonstrated Braille reading and sign language.  The head of a local organization for blind people gave an encouraging talk stating “We are disabled, but NOT unable”, and her brother (also blind) wrote and sang an inspiring song with gusto and skill.View the Video below to see part of his song.

It was our hope that through this event God would be honored and that people with disabilities would feel valued – we felt God blessed the event and our hopes were met. In many speeches the contribution of IAM in serving people with disabilities in Faryab was mentioned with gratefulness.  We were thankful for the good security conditions during the event.  And we were especially heartened by the way that all who were involved willingly worked together to make it a successful event.