Director of Tanzania Youth Coalition (TYC), Lenin Kazoba made the call yesterday when speaking during the ongoing Pan African Youth Camp in Weruweru, Hai district, Kilimanjaro Region.
“The disabled have a lot to offer if provided with more chances, encouraged and empowered,” Kazoba noted in recognition of this year’s World Disabled Day that is commemorated every 3rd December.
Involving 60 youth change makers from Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Burundi the five days camp aims at building the capacity of youth to take part in development dialogues and mentor them to become active and effective citizens.
The TYC Director explained that it is a responsibility of each one to recognise disabled people as partners in development.
A participant, Lilian Munuo (23) who is disabled said efforts are needed for people to recognise the needs and rights of disabled individuals.
“People should step into our shoes first before jumping into conclusions about us,” she said while referring to some stigma they face.
Lilian who is an innovator and artist suffers from a rare condition called muscular dystrophy which leads to muscular weakness and shortening of muscles.
She said that apart from being included in development endeavours, architectures should consider putting friendly infrastructures for the disabled especially when constructing storey buildings.
Another youth, Colman Ndetembea said it is important to step up efforts to provide the country’s disabled people with assistive devices, therapy and opportunities.
Colman showcased a unique multipurpose tool that can serve as a wheelchair, standing frame and a bed to help people with muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy and spinal cord injuries.
Earlier, assistant administrative secretary in Kilimanjaro Region (Administration and Human Resource), Bwai Biseko urged youth participating at the forum to utilize skills gained to impact productive sectors such as fisheries, livestock and forestry and change their countries and the region at large.
“A huge market can be created around these sub sectors,” he noted while urging the youth to take advantage of existing regional groupings such as East African community, Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) to look for markets.
He cautioned them to always focus on standards and quality to compete at the international stage; work harder and change their mind sets.
TYC is a consortium of more than 120 youth NGOs and Community Based Organizations (CBOs), 249 youth enterprise groups and hundreds of youth individual members from Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar.
This year’s theme for the World’s Disability Day was ‘Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: Taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda’.