Tuesday, May 13, 2008

NGO seeks more support for deaf

MORE awareness programs have to be carried to promote understanding and tolerance for the deaf community in Fiji.

Many people still look at deaf peoples' disabilities rather than appreciating their abilities says Foundation of Rural Integrated Enterprises N Development (FRIEND) operations manager, Nileshni Shekar.

The Lautoka-based non government organisation has been working with deaf youths to try to overcome their hardships.

Ms Shekar said with such a large deaf population in the country, there must be more tolerance and acceptance.

She said during a governance program conducted three years ago, deaf youths identified several issues they felt had to be addressed immediately to improve their situation.

Ms Shekar said two of the main issues were access to employment and proper education.

Ms Shekar said another major barrier to the promotion of the situation of deaf people was language.

She said since very little has been done since then to fulfill the needs and aspirations of the deaf.

According to the Carabez Alliance, Fiji has the highest number of deaf people in the South Pacific.

The Alliance's founder, Bronwyn Carabez, said there were 51,321 deaf people in the country.

This figure represents about six per cent of the total population.

Ms Carabez said of the estimated deaf population, 17,449 were children.

She said one major regional causes of deafness was chronic ear infections, which people do not seek treatment for.

The Carabez Alliance was formed in 2004.

It was established with the aim of providing the children of Fiji and the Pacific Island region with audio logical support for their full potential in education and life skills.

Numerous attempts to contact Health and Social Welfare Minister, Doctor Jiko Luven, for a comment yesterday were unsuccesful.

Source: http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=88915

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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