Weekender

Disability centre wows North

Written By : Source: MINISTRY OF SOCIAL WELFARE, WOMEN AND POVERTY ALLEVIATION . The Northern Division received a special treat this week to celebrate the official opening of its Centre
24 Jun 2011 12:00

image Written By : Source: MINISTRY OF SOCIAL WELFARE, WOMEN AND POVERTY ALLEVIATION . The Northern Division received a special treat this week to celebrate the official opening of its Centre for the Fiji National Council for Disabled Persons (FNCDP) in Naiyaca, Labasa.
The facility symbolises Government’s commitment to empower the disabled in our community, with its ground-breaking ceremony witnessed in 2010.
Government has taken the initiative to improve the lives of our disabled community, first with the food voucher, the free bus fares and now with a new FNCDP Centre in the North.
Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, while officially opening the new centre on Wednesday, reiterated that the event was an example of Government’s commitment to give practical and tangible rights to people living with disabilities.
“This centre will become the focal point for people with disabilities,” the PM said.
“It will be a centre where medical and physiotherapy services can be provided, counseling, sports can be organised, vocational and educational training, but more so a centre where people living with disabilities can interact and feel at home.”
The centre will also provide employment opportunities for the disabled.
Dr Sitiveni Yanuyanutawa, director for FNCDP said his years of waiting has finally come to pass.
“After four years we see this centre being developed to decentralise the services we operate in Suva,” Mr Yanuyanutawa said.
“It is a reminder to the people with disability that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“This is the place where they can take up vocational skills and go more into issues on achieving employment, to create a sense of livelihood, wellbeing and visibility for the disabled, not only in Labasa, but the entire Northern Division.
Dr Yanuyanutawa said Government has been a catalyst in fulfilling a dream.
“The initial investment for the centre stood at $300,000 and we are thankful to the Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Jiko Luveni. Through her leadership the development was fast-tracked.”
The opening ceremony was witnessed by experts who work with the disabled persons.
Suresh Chand, who has been a teacher at the Labasa Special School for over 14 years, said: “We are proud that our children with disability will benefit from this centre especially from the lifelong living skills that will be offered here. Students will now be empowered through vocational training particularly in carpentry, joinery, automotive skills.”
The Labasa Special School caters for 107 students.
Likewise Ram Deo, who has been a member of the disabled committee for the past 10 years, said: “The new centre will create employment opportunities for young persons with disabilities.”
“I urge the communities in Labasa to use this facility to its full advantage and we thank the Government for this development,” Mr Deo said.
Sharing similar views, businessman Amika Raj, counsellor for the Macuata Council for Disabled Persons and a retired head teacher of the Labasa School for Special Education said: “Senior citizens with disabilities can now expect to better their lives.

“We have always wanted to have a centre for senior people with disability who cannot attend schools. This centre now provides job opportunities that will see the disabled persons live a free and independent life.”
Monisha Mamta Rao, 24, could not hold back her tears when the centre was officially opened.
“Disability comes with challenges and with the new centre, it will be a new beginning for many young women like me,” Ms Rao said.
“The new centre is a source of hope and better days ahead for disabled persons like me. We will be able to have vocational and special life skills training to find employment and improve our lives.
“The Government is committed to improve our lives because they have supported us and I believe that with the presence of the Prime Minister at the ceremony the support will continue to grow.”
Savitri Kumar, a mother to a 14-year-old son who is physically and mentally challenged described the new centre as point of assistance and contact for parents with disabled children.
“Looking after my son can be challenging at times and with the new centre in Labasa, I no longer need to travel to Suva,” Ms Kumar said.
“I am grateful to the Government for recognising the needs of our disabled community.”
District Advisory Councillor Satyawan Balram said the new centre had touched the hearts of many people in the North.
“It clearly indicates that there are better and brighter days heading to the friendly North,” Mr Balram said.
“The communities in the North are grateful to the Government for its ongoing commitment and assurance for developments such as this to better the lives of the people.
“It is a good example of Government’s commitment and continued support for the people in the division.”


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