End stigma, stereotyping of PWDs, says Activist


Dr Christopher Nwanoro, the President of the National Disability Empowerment Forum (NADEF), has called for an end to stigmatisation and stereotyping of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).

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He made the call in Abuja on Sunday, saying “PWDs are also Nigerians with valuable contributions to render for the growth and development of the country.”

Nwanoro recalled that he became blind when he was an undergraduate at 300 level, and after many obstacles and challenges, his determination saw him through school, where he acquired his first degree, masters and PhD.

He added that, “It was just like a joke how I lost my sight on one fateful afternoon. I suddenly couldn’t see. I was not involved in an accident, neither was I ill. Doctors tried their best but I have remained like this.”

He said it had not been easy, but driven by his passion for the welfare of PWDs, he established Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) such as NADEF, Lotus Initiative for the Blind, and Rivers of Hope Humanitarian Initiative.

The activist, an Abia indigene said, “These initiatives are testimonies of my dedication to supporting the disabled community in every possible way.

“Stigma and stereotyping of PWDs still exist and it is terrible, I wonder how we can eradicate it in Nigeria. Sometimes, people see me and want to give me money as if I am begging.

“In the offices where some of us work, people do not see us as people who can do something. So, the stigma is so much.

“Even on the streets when we join public vehicles, people will look at you; some people, if you sit near them, they will stand up and work out.

“Some of us, like the women, find it difficult to marry. For those of us who are men, it is not as hard as women. The stigma is so much, and for your information, we have something to offer.”

Nwanoro said that the NGO he founded during his service year in Rivers had attained the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) consultative status, which allowed it to consult and participate in all UN programmes.

He added that so far, his achievements through his various NGOs were evident and that PWDs have a future and could change and contribute to the growth and development of the country.

“My target is to see how I can help these people live independent lives. Having excelled in my career and in life and positively impacted the lives of PWDs, I feel there is need for me to do more, and these people can equally do more,” Nwanoro said.

He explained that his NGO had done several free medical outreach in various states, with a recent one conducted in Abia, tagged “Preventing Preventable Blindness,” to help PWDs live normal lives.

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