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Government Understands Us: Joshko Wakaniyasi

In the past five years, differently abled people have had more opportunities to excel than in the past two decades, a leader said yesterday Joshko Wakaniyasi, the president of the
09 Dec 2017 12:53
Government Understands Us: Joshko Wakaniyasi
Joshko Wakaniyasi (left), the president of the Fiji Disabled People’s Federation and founding member of the Spinal Injuries Association during the 19th Attorney-General’s Conference at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa in Natadola. Photo: Office of the Attorney-General

In the past five years, differently abled people have had more opportunities to excel than in the past two decades, a leader said yesterday

Joshko Wakaniyasi, the president of the Fiji Disabled People’s Federation and founding member of the Spinal Injuries Association of Fiji was speaking at the 19th Attorney-General’s Conference.

The two-day conference is underway at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa in Natadola.

Mr Wakaniyasi spoke candidly about how far members of the foundation had come.

And, a large credit was given to the FijiFirst Government for the role it has played in implementing policies which focuses on the abilities rather than disabilities of the members.

Mr Wakaniyasi said now the grants for people living with disabilities were no longer seen as hand-outs.

“I can tell you, in Fiji, we no longer feel like we’re getting hand-outs under this Government,” he said.

He said members of these organisations who have often been on the margins of society played a role in Fiji’s new currency.

He said the association was “actually consulted” and gave it’s input in the new notes and coins which were introduced by the Reserve Bank of Fiji – the flora and fauna design bank notes- in 2012.

Mr Wakaniyasi said if all 500 participants were blindfolded, they would not be able to tell the banknotes apart but United Blind Persons of Fiji members and other Fijians who were blind would be able to tell the notes apart.

This was because of the wide consultations that Government facilitated meant that even a blind Fijian will be able to tell the difference between the banknotes and coins.

He also acknowledged how the organisers of the conference – a team from the Office of the Attorney-General ensured that his room was easily accessible on his wheelchair and that it was not too far from the venue.

This he said was an indication of the level of understanding that existed under the current Government.

The fact that Fiji was among countries which had its Constitution printed in Braille may seem like a small thing to many, but meant a lot to Fijians living with disabilities.

He also reminded people that all Government grants come with responsibilities and that all organisations needed to be accountable to Government on where and how they spend the money.

Mr Wakaniyasi also shared the story of two prominent Fijians – Paralympian and Assistant Minister for Youth and Sports Iliesa Delana and table tennis representative Merewalesi Rodan who had excelled in sports and talked about the difficulties they had faced while competing against world champions who have had better equipment to train with.

Mr Wakaniyasi shared that they had normal lives just like able-bodied people but had to live with the restrictions they had.

“What many of you don’t know is that Merewalesi Rodan is a mother of six and a grandmother of 2. She gets up early in the morning, prepares school lunches for her little ones, gets herself ready and then does her training. She comes back in the afternoon and does the same again,” he said.

“What you don’t know about Minister Delana is that in the weeks leading up to the Paralympics, he was living on a diet of biscuit and tuna because that’s all he could afford. What many don’t know is that he is a new father and a good husband.”

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj



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