On Wednesday I wrote about the Disability Sector workshop that was due to take place in Honiara which the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, Dr. Paul Mae, had earlier announced would encourage participants at the workshop to share ideas and strengthen partnerships in addressing access to justice in respect of those with disabilities.
I had some concerns about the initial media report of the workshop since I considered some of the text was wordy and contained jargon.
I am pleased to have subsequently learned from correspondents who attended the workshop it was a success and a Statement of Commitment was forthcoming after the 3 day event.
The commitments, and I believe numbered about 6, were adopted and they will be progressed to forge new partnerships in support of the rights of those with disabilities.
When it comes to the rights of persons with disabilities I am mindful that the Solomon Islands government is still to ratify the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, although twice having said it would only need a Cabinet decision and then the matter could be referred to the United Nations and ratification secured.
The Convention is a human rights treaty designed by representatives of the international community - including people with disabilities, government officials, representatives of nongovernmental organizations and others - to change the way people with disabilities are viewed and treated in their societies.
If the SIG could ratify the Convention then I believe it could be possible for those in the Solomon Islands involved in the Association for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to seek possible help from the Disability Rights Fund and get grants to aid the work of assisting people locally suffering from some degree of physical disability.
The Disability Rights Fund (DRF) is a grant making collaborative between donors and the global disability rights community that empowers persons with disabilities to advocate for equal rights and full participation in society.
When it comes to equal rights for persons with disabilities, I have often raised my concerns for access to premises and office building in Honiara by those who are wheel chair bound, or suffer from some form of disability that would impose hardship if steps had to be climbed to access their place of work, a shop, a bank or some other commercial or retail outlet.
Equally, I have mentioned the need for help for those with deafness and in those cases in which a hearing aid could make a dramatic improvement to their daily lives, schooling and employment opportunities.
I have written at length, too, about the requirement for the National Referral Hospital (NRH) to be given a 20 foot metal shipping container converted into a workshop to facilitate the manufacture of artificial limbs, especially prosthetic legs for ex-patients, known to be several hundred, that had a leg amputated following surgery and require a more permanent walking aid than crutches.
I have been in touch with a manufacturer of converted containers that would meet the requirements of the NRH and been promised a quote of costs and freight charges to Honiara.
Once I receive the quotation, I will write with details and very much hope that some organization, business or commercial enterprise, or private or traditional donor(s) will help the NRH get the much needed replacement workshop.
Take My Hands, my partner charity in New Zealand has links with official organizations in New Zealand that I am assured would be willing to offer help to the NRH, if needed, in the technical process of prosthetic limbs manufacture.