The Coordinator for the Kasoa-Ofaakor branch of the Ghana Society for Physically Disabled [GSPD] in the Awutu Senya East Municipality, Mr. Daniel Amu, has stated that instead of giving alms and food to the physically challenged it is better to support them to get employable skills or trades that are more sustainable.
Speaking to the Media at their weekly meetings at Ofaakor, Mr. Amu stressed that they feel bad when their members go out to beg for alms while in actual fact they can work to earn income and cater for themselves and leave the streets.
Mr. Amu averred that most of the time, the authorities and some NGOs want to help them but they do not know the best way to do it, because they fail to consult the Society to know their pressing needs.
He noted that people at times say they have helped a disabled person but have seen them back in the streets begging, explaining that such situations occur because the benefactors do not know the exact needs of the Society’s members that will make them self-sufficient so that they do not go back to the streets to beg again.
Asked the kind of help that will be sustainable for their members , he noted that at Ofaakor for example, they have two plots of land that can be used for modern toilet project for the proceeds to be used to support members or build a hospital or school to raise funds for the Society.
He said if the above facilities are put in place, members of their Society can work there while others will go elsewhere to work instead of begging.
Mr. Amu noted that it is when such facilities are in place but still members go to the streets to beg that the Society can take them on else it is difficult to stop those members who beg.
The Ofaakor coordinator emphasized that one area that is helpful is to support their members that are into shoe making for example to form groups that can get contract to make shoes for large organizations, explaining that when such large markets are available their members in shoe making for instance will not even get time to go and beg instead of satisfying their customers.
He noted that it is when there is no demand that people will close their shops and go out again to the streets to beg for alms instead of working or being economically viable.
He stated that they want government and other organizations and individuals to come to their aid not with food but a sustainable support to showcase their God given talents, explaining further that they see themselves as national assets that can be profitable and not liability to society.
Mr. Amu noted that if they are supported to stand on their feet, they can even give loans to those who need it and that will be an achievement for the Society.
Asked whether the Awutu Senya East Assembly supports their cause he answered in the positive and explained that the Society has to let the Assembly know the kind of support that they need in order to receive relevant support from the Assembly, so that it does not look as if the policies are imposed on them without their input.
Members at the forum also expressed their views on how the Society can develop for the benefit of all the members.
Some of them commended the Coordinator for supporting individuals in the group who complete SHS and need jobs by training such persons at his own expense and also buy tools for them to start their own jobs.
They appealed to the government to get them trained in the various trades and help them to set themselves up to be gainfully employed.
Others also averred that they have already learnt trades for example tailoring but they do not have start-up capital, so it is their plea that the government will extend a hand to them to be self- sufficient as they do not have any support, although their Society has been fighting hard to get sponsors.
Others also appealed to philanthropists and NGOs to come to their aid to get trained to be in the position to fend for themselves and stop begging in the streets.
By Bernard Quanson