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June 30, 2004

The Deaf Lament Being Neglected, Blame Previous Govts

From:, Africa - Jun 30, 2004

The NEWS (Monrovia)
June 30, 2004
Posted to the web June 30, 2004

By Moses M. Zangar, Jr. Monrovia

Mr. Sandei said successive regimes have also discriminated against deaf people, because these governments have done nothing to improve their welfare and livelihood.

"Therefore, we are neglected. We are not important to our leaders and politicians," the articulate deaf leader lamented.

He spoke Saturday at the end of a week-long HIV/AIDS awareness workshop for the deaf. The workshop was held at the S.T. Nagbe Memorial United Methodist Church on 12th Street in Sinkor, Monrovia.

The United Methodist Church in Baltimore, USA, organized the workshop in collaboration with the United Methodist Church in Liberia. The workshop brought together 30 hearing impaired and five interpreters, with participants drawn from two deaf organizations, OSILD and the Liberia National Association for the Deaf (LNAD).

Mr. Adrian Sandei blamed those in leadership positions, including politicians seeking the Presidency of Liberia for paying less attention to the deaf.

Consequently, he said there is not a single program to accommodate them and make them feel a part of the society.

"We want to be attended to the same way people with other disabilities are attended to. The Government and other NGOs should consider the needs of the deaf. Our needs are not being met," the elderly deaf said as his colleagues waved their hands in applause.

Mr. Sandei disclosed that his organization, OSILD, currently has a vegetable farm project and has sought support from NGOs and other humanitarians but to no avail.

He also disclosed that his organization has plans to construct a school building to help with the education of deaf children.

The President of OSILD lamented that many deaf people have acquired little or no education because of the culture of neglect for the deaf. As a result, Sandei said the future of Liberian deaf is bleak, because no man can do anything of substance in the absence of education, which is the fulcrum for the development of the human person and the nation as a whole.

Despite this apparent neglect, he said deaf people should persevere and be united in working against vices that are inimical to their well-being.

He also called on the media to highlight the plights of Liberian deaf so that they (deaf) can get the attention they desire.

The only high school for deaf in Virginia, outside Monrovia, was affected by the war and nothing has been heard about its rehabilitation. Other elementary schools operated by individuals or church-related organizations have been forced to close down due to the lack of support.

From research and analysis, only one Liberian deaf, Edward Chea, has acquired a university degree so far. Mr. Chea obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from the Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. in 2002. Gallaudet is the world's only university for the deaf.

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