Disability Inclusion: A Multiplier Effect
Having been in office as Disability Inclusion Advisor at Light for the World Netherlands Uganda country office for less than two months, on 12th October 2017 I paid a courtesy visit to Facilitators for Peace and Development (FAPAD) based in Lira District, Northern Uganda. My visit was aimed at introducing myself and understanding how our partners operate at grass root level.
While in Lira, I had a meeting with the Executive Director and the Head of Programs. I also attended one of the community meetings. One important observation was that FAPAD had a commitment towards disability inclusion. This commitment was reaffirmed by the Head of Programs, Juliet Ebil: “Persons with disabilities are our brothers, sisters, and neighbours. We live with them. Why should we leave them behind? The challenge is we don’t know how to mainstream them in our work and at our workplace”. I was convinced that supporting FAPAD to actualize their commitment, disability inclusion would work. Since then I have kept in regular contact with Juliet. Whenever we need each other, we get in touch through different communication technologies such as calling, email, SMS and WhatsApp.
The Advantages of WhatsApp
Being a Deaf person, I find WhatsApp a good communication technology. It has some advantages: it is easy to give a lengthy discussion of a subject; you can send a picture or short film to emphasize your points. WhatsApp has also facilitated the formation of “Civic Engagement Alliance” WhatsApp group which is composed of all Alliance local implementing partners. This helps the partners to share their successes and challenges regularly.*
With the commitment of the Head of Programs, the FAPAD Board of Directors approved a Disability Policy which aims at mainstreaming disability within FAPAD as an organization. Within two months of policy coming into force, FAPAD recruited a full-time receptionist with a physical disability – becoming one of the few mainstream organizations to employ a person with a disability in Lira District. FAPAD has also amended her Monitoring & Evaluation tools to capture disability inclusion. FAPAD’s story of change teaches us a lesson: inclusion is not only about making our projects inclusive, but also making our workplaces inclusive by embracing capabilities of persons with disabilities.
All these achievements by FAPAD towards disability inclusion are a result of FAPAD’s engagement in pathway two (food security and smallholder empowerment) where Light for the World is providing expertise in disability inclusion. “We thank the Civic Engagement Alliance for making us experts in disability inclusion. I think we are the only inclusive mainstream organization in the district”, Eunice Apio, the FAPAD Executive Director. Prior to the approval of the Disability Policy, FAPAD sent a draft to Light for the World for comments which we gladly provided.
The idea of making pathway 2 inclusive has instead made the whole organization inclusive. Thanks to FAPAD commitment. This is a multiplier effect – persons with disabilities will not only benefit from one project (Civic Engagement Alliance) at FAPAD but they will also access and utilize other services provided by the organization. This makes the Civic Engagement Alliance program unique as it has given different organizations an opportunity to become inclusive.
Written by Ambrose Murangira, Disability Inclusion Advisor, Light for the Word Netherlands