By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Engraced Ones Prayer/Advocacy group, has awarded Peoples Daily reporter, Tobias Lengnan Dapam, with Humanitarian Award.

The reporter received the award for his contribution and reports about children with special needs.

Speaking while presenting the award in Abuja, during the end of year event, the Coordinator of the NGO, Mrs. Bibora Yinkere said Peoples Daily Newspaper has contributed a lot in areas of advocacy to our NGO.

“We are very happy to identify with this prestigious National daily and what their reporter has been doing for our NGO. We have a lot of reports courtesy of this reporter and we are very happy honouring him for this wonderful contribution.”

Aside our reporter, the NGO recognized other personalities and organisation that supported their activities in 2019.

She said the organisation is grateful to God for the journey so far.

“When we started this year, we had just few coins but God opened doors for us to end this year on high note. We got financial support and trainings from various individuals.”

She said she was happy that the NGO achievement all it set out to do this year.

“Now everything we set out to do we got it. We achieved all we needed to do.

God has helped us. We have improved on our last year’s achievement. We collaborated with a lot of other organisations and the successes were enormous.”

She said the NGO will continue to advocate for the rights o special children.

“We will continue to advocate for their rights to education, better care and acceptance. Government should absorb them and cater for their education. We need diagnostic centers for them to get the best care they need. The children need to be monitored at these centers.

“The medical treatment of these children as well as their education is very expensive. Government should provide a scheme or social welfare where these children can go and access affordable healthcare services. Last year we lost a child in our midst because there was no money. For instance, the problem with cerebral palsy is that it is not a uniform condition. It is like a spectrum because every child living with cerebral palsy has his own peculiarity and that is why the school is expensive.

“There are a lot of challenges these children face such as abandonment, rejection as well as illiteracy on the part of the parents who may not know their conditions. The major cause of cerebral palsy is infantile jaundice. We have cases where a woman will give birth today and that same day she is discharged from the hospital. The doctors don’t observe the children. The fact is that most times cerebral palsy is caused by factors that are avoidable.

“Also, the health aspect is important and very expensive. For instance, physiotherapy is 300 to 7000 per hour. If the therapists come and the child is not in the mood the parent will still pay. Some of the children have hole in their hearts and they need constant hospital visit. Government should make speech therapy free to help many parents who can not afford the bills. We have many of them in our government hospitals and if they can help, we will be grateful. They need to be taught everything and the teacher or the parent needs to be patient with them because they are different from other children.

Speaking about the NGO’s School of Grace, the Coordinator said they will intensify and equip the school and give the children the best education.

She said there will be focus on academics and craft next year to help the children.

“We will take the campaign about the rights of the children across the country.”

She canvassed for more support from the government and the general public, saying it is too expensive to cater for children with down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and other intellectual disabilities.

She proffered that economic empowerment of the parents of these children will go along way towards assisting the children. She cited example with their newly launched school, saying “out of the 9 children with special needs at the school, it is only one child that the parents could afford a little out of the required fees for educating each of the children. The economic wellbeing of a good number of the parents is nothing to envy, they can’t afford the health demands of their children not to talk about expensive nature of their education.”

She frowned at some parents who are discriminating against their children living with these conditions. She said that some of the parents don’t even have their children with special needs in the family album, they don’t want the public to know that they have children with special needs and as such they can’t even take their children with special needs to school. She scolded these parents and reminded them that children with intellectual disabilities deserve good life like others, they can also excel in life, all that they need is extra support from their parents.

The Coordinator called on parents to take care of their children regardless of their conditions.

“Irrespective of the conditions, parents should know that the children are human beings, they should see it as an avenue to take care of them. The parents should be caring and observant so as to better take care of the children. There is a face of denial, but they need to come out of it. Some went through suicidal stage and blame themselves that probably they didn’t do certain things right during pregnancy, some feel like killing the child while some kill the child eventually.

There is need for this kind of people to join other groups so as to share their stories. They should not withdraw from the society.

In support group, you will see people worse than you who have passed through the same problem. You will also learn through their experiences and know what to do and how best to handle the situation.”

Also speaking, Air Vice Marshal Nelson Calmday said the children need to be exposed to other children. “This also means healing for them. They should not be hidden by their parents.

“Government should help them. This is the only foundation in Abuja and we have a lot of these cases in the country, and the institutions are inadequate compared to the cases. They require special budgets. Government should not allow NGOs alone to handle these cases. More attention should be placed on it like Nomadic education and mobile fisher men education.

Highlights of the event were; awards presentations, carols, performances and many more.

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