Perhaps, we harbor thoughts that the Human Rights message of ‘equal opportunities for all’ is a recent or should I say modern phenomenon. Going back to the books of books the Holy Bible, the issue of equality has always been and essential point profess my God Almighty. God has compassion and love for us all no matter our statues in life but more for the needy and those who have quest for the living water as God puts it. To show his meekness and humility he was of a lowly birth called Jesus Christ.

The parables of Christ are always so interesting and inspiring like this one from Mathew 25: 35-40 translated from the New American Standard Bible (1995) – For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?’And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' "The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'

In another Bible story Jesus informed a Rich man He was coming to his home for dinner and the Richman prepared lavishly, then a Beggar knocked on the door, thinking that was Jesus he opened up, seeing the Beggar he asked him to leave ‘cause he is expecting an important guest. Jesus never showed up, so when he saw Jesus next he asked Jesus and Jesus replied, I did come but you chased me away. – Jesus was the beggar. Drawing from this, how many Beggars, Destitute, Disabled/Handicaps, Orphans or Strangers in general who are in need have we shown kindness, love and affection to?

I really don’t know about you out there - Individuals, Stakeholders/ Policy Makers and Governments. How ever, these coldness, aggressiveness, minimization, discrimination and nonchalant attitudes toward those in need still prevail in our today’s society. Most times the way humans treat their fellow human beings leaves me with the feeling of coldness, sadness and exasperation.

From my close association with Orphans, Handicaps/Disabled and Juvenile Delinquents I realized most of those put in charge to cater for the less privilege most often instead exploit and shun them whereas the greatest desire of these classes of people is to belong and be part and parcel of the contemporary society. They don’t want to be limited; they have talents, visions, prospects and needs but require just the push and avenues to explore and exhibit them.

A role Model of someone with disabilities yet made resourceful and outstanding accomplishments is Helen Adam Keller born on 27 June 1880 in Tuscumbia, a small rural town in Northwest Alabama, USA. At age nineteen months she fell sick when her illness subsided it became apparent that the illness had left her blind and deaf but this did not limit Helen’s ambitions. We still have the likes of Helen in our present day society and with technology evolving livelihood conditions for those with disabilities and less opportunity has to be favorable.

Helen has many inspiring quotes some of them are – ‘Knowledge is love and light and vision’. ‘The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision, it is a terrible thing to see and have no vision’. ‘Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet’. ‘Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved’.

I have also come across many Disabled/Handicap persons who are ambitious, industrious and lucrative but their societies limit their prospects. There is a piece I enjoy prepared by Mr Njie Fidelis the Provincial Chief of Statistics and Communication of the South West Provincial Delegation of Social Affairs, Cameroon. As an Albino he also faces marginalization. The caption of the piece is – ‘WHO IS A DISABLED’ - The key message is – Treasure every life and value every Disabled Person. The message goes thus-

If you fail to SEE the person but only DISABILITY Then who is BLIND.

If you cannot HEAR your brother’s cry for justice Then who is DEAF.

If you do not COMMUNICATE with your sister but separate her from you. Then who is MENTALLY HANDICAPPED.

If you do not STAND up for the rights of all persons. Then who is CRIPPLE.

Your attitude towards persons with Disabilities may be our Biggest handicapped and yours too.

Visiting the Rehabilitation Institute for the Blind in Buea, Cameroon known as Bulu Blind Center on the walls of their hall were posted some touching and mind- searching messages such as –

*Treasure every life, value every blind person * Disability is not inability * We join hands to bar the way to AIDS * The best way to be happy is to make others happy * We need acceptance in ordinary schools * No action for the disabled without the Disabled * Harden not to listen to our voices * Equal opportunities should be reality

The cardboard paper titled - OUR PLEA states-

Give us greater access to education and empowerment. Do not reject us. We are an integral part of society.

At the Juvenile Delinquency Center in Buea, Cameroon known as Borstal Institute, the phases of observational learning constitute – Attention, Retention, Reproduction and Motivation.

The dilemma of people in need, reminds me of this Christian song – Tempted and trials we’re oft made to wonder Why it should be thus all the day long While there are others living about us Never molested though in the wrong…..

Please let’s say NO to segregation, discrimination, exploitation, slavery and corruption and seek strategies to curb and ameliorate the situation of those in need, without which the population crisis, human rights activities, the UN Millennium Goals and other movements with the guise of propagating and ensuring a better world for all will never be accomplished.

By Cecile Enie