DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF TIMOR-LESTE
OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER
Concentrating on their abilities is the way forward for our disabled
All people suffer some form of disability even though it might not be physical and visually obvious, Prime Minister Dr José Ramos-Horta told a gathering in Aileu today celebrating International Disability Day.
“If a Prime Minister was incompetent that might be a form of disability,” he said.
“Or if a Government Minister was lazy, that too could be a disability.
“It is for these reasons I have some difficulty with using the word disability to broadly describe people who suffer some visually obvious physical impairment. Too much emphasis is placed on the ‘dis’. It is more important to concentrate on the ‘ability’ portion of this word.”
The Prime Minister and Minister for State Ana Pesoa were presented with a list of seven requests by representatives of Timor-Leste’s disabled.
“I accept all these requests and I will work to ensure they are delivered,” Dr Ramos-Horta said.
“I have enlisted the assistance of Minister of State Pessoa to help me push these things through the Council of Ministers.”
The seven requests are:
1. The building in Aileu to be officially handed over to the Mary Knoll organisation and funds provided to repair and maintain it.
2. Secondary schools in Timor-Leste to integrate disabled students into campuses.
3. The boarding school in Taibessi for disabled people from the Districts to be repaired.
4. Assistance with credit for disabled people to help them start small businesses.
5. Scholarships for disabled people whose parents do not have the money to send them to school.
6. Access for the disabled in the workplace; on public transport and in communications.
7. Immediate support for the families of the disabled whose houses were destroyed in the recent crisis.
This year is the 25th anniversary of the International Year of Disabled Persons and the primary objectives of disabled people and organisations are to see equal opportunities provided; adequate rehabilitation; and action to prevent disabilities occurring.
Timor-Leste has a number of organisations (locally and internationally supported) working with a strong focus on people with disabilities. They include: Katilosa, Klibur Domin, the Blind Union, Mary Knoll in Aileu, the Special School for Disabled, Leprosy Mission International, the Alma Sisters and ASSERT.
There are also an increasing number of organisations including efforts for disabled people in their programs – for example UNICEF, Plan, ILO and CARE.
The Government of Timor-Leste, through the Ministry of Labor and Community Reinsertion, continues to develop programs for people with disabilities…..
· Eleven disabled Timorese sports men and women are currently participating in the 9th FESPIC Games in Kuala Lumpur. FESPIC is the annual Paralympics for Far East and South Pacific countries.
· The Ministry of Labor and Community Reinsertion has provided $US66,000 through its Annual Action Plan to support the local NGO ASSERT.
· 100 disabled persons are receiving school subsidies.
· People with disabilities are receiving training from the Ministry in establishing and running a small business.
· Community-based rehabilitation programs are starting in many areas and being supported by the Government.