As one disability professional wisely summarized in a recent sector briefing: “COVID has only compounded the already existing crises for people with disabilities.” We know this all too well and is part of the reason we are continuously seeking out innovative ways to respond to what is needed most right now. And we know that especially now, we can and should use available and ever-increasing technology capabilities for good.
That's why, with a lot of creative and collaborative planning, we recently carried out the first Disability & COVID town hall meeting in partnership with Initiative For National Growth Africa. We created this virtual platform as a way to bring disability changemakers together to provide encouragement, initiate connections, and share strategies that are helping to meet the needs and daily struggles of people with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries throughout the world right now.
You see, the fact that often gets overlooked is this - disability communities are not sitting idly-by in despair. They are innovating and are coming together to take care of each other and others in their communities.
We hear so many individual stories that demonstrate this fact. These stories capture the daily reality of life as the disability community perseveres toward creating a better tomorrow—showcasing needs, heartbreaks, and loving determination along the way. We are continually inspired and always learning. Here are a few snippets of stories shared:
Patrick from Uganda (a friend of one of our Advisory Working Group members) shared about his organization’s successful project sewing face masks and making liquid soap, which is creating jobs for people with disabilities and providing their communities with needed supplies to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
Uchenna from Nigeria—a woman who herself lives with disabilities—shared a message pleading with parents of children with multiple and significant disabilities to work with their children on some of the learning activities a teacher might ordinarily perform—rather than leaving their children alone—with the goal of enabling them to continue to develop and learn skills they need.
Fred from Kenya shared about how his community of people with epilepsy is working together to prevent seizure triggers being worsened by COVID's impacts by sharing food and providing 'counselors' to call each other to relieve stress and make sure everyone is ok.
Listen to these messages in the meeting's recording and learn more about our town hall project here.
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