As part of recognising and celebrating rights of humans, especially people living with disabilities, Gauteng Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs’ Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) today held an event to educate the learners on disaster reduction. The event, held at Albertina Sisulu Multipurpose Centre, Soweto, was attended by and directed to learners with special educational needs from two schools in the area.
The department is recognising people with disabilities as they are the most vulnerable and often neglected. Speaking on the purpose of the day, head of PDMC Elias Sithole said that the main aim of the day was to empower the communities, especially school kids on reducing disasters.
“Learners are at a better position to ensure that information flows and educate their parents, hence the focus is mainly on them”, Sithole said. He also mentioned that as Gauteng province “we will embark on more projects like this one”.
Addressing the learners and the attendees, Human Settlements, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Ntombi Mekgwe said: “What we have learnt in the last 20 years of democracy is that never ever shall we neglect anyone of us in our society, especially those most vulnerable. Generally the most vulnerable in our society are the aged and the physically challenged”.
MEC Mekgwe highlighted that about a billion of us in the world live with some form of disability, representing one-fifth of the world’s population. “Therefore the world can no longer turn a blind eye to the plight of this majority of people living with disabilities. As a nation, we must all make sure that we protect and become promoters of the rights of people living with disabilities,” MEC Mekgwe encouraged.
“As we converge here today we are here to ensure that we impart knowledge about disaster reduction for those living with disabilities,” MEC said, adding that “imagine being blind and not realizing that the road is flooded and you want to cross it. Imagine you are deaf and a notice is being given to evacuate a building and you cannot hear. Or imagine you are a person living with disabilities in a disaster relief centre and you are given food that is not allowed for your disability. These are but some of the real challenges which most often leave disabled people in more troubles and difficulties”.
MEC Ntombi mentioned that this is a unique project and an event of its own kind in Gauteng and within the City of Johannesburg. She said that it tells us that disasters do not discriminate whether you are young or old, man, woman or child, black or white, physically and mentally challenged or not.
“When disasters strike, we all fall victim and therefore all efforts at disaster reduction must bear this in mind. Let us all be champions of fighting against all forms of disasters in a collective approach so as to respond positively and lessen disaster impact,” MEC said.
The MEC Mekgwe concluded by saying that the learners of the two schools will benefit greatly from this project. “For the first time they will receive training on disaster management, awareness and reduction,” she highlighted, adding that “as a caring government committed to the betterment of our society, we are humbled by such gestures and interventions that responds to and improve the lives of those physically and mentally challenged amongst us.”
MEC Ntombi mentioned that the project will rollout throughout the province to make sure that awareness on disaster management and reduction is raised.
SOURCE: South African Official News