Disability Rights Advocacy Center (DRAC) on Friday in Abuja organised a trade fair to empower Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) who have benefited from its numerous programmes to enable them showcase their products for patronage.
The Community Mobilisation Officer of DRAC, Mr Offiong Ita, said that the trade fair was organised by the centre to foster inclusion and socio-economic empowerment of PWDs into society.
Ita said that the fair, which was the first of its kind, had in attendance over 300 participants who were beneficiaries of the centre’s empowerment programmes.
“What we are trying to do is to get women with disabilities empowered. When we started this project, the aim is to give these women socio-economic empowerment.
“We taught them skills through our vocational training programme and after learning the skills it is time to bring them into the market to sell.
“Ordinarily, women with disabilities are not accepted in the markets. When they come to the market to sell, people will buy from women without disabilities first before they come to women with disabilities,” he said.
According to him, what the centre is doing is bringing the women to the market so that they can sell and people will but from them.
“They will interact with women and people that come to the market.
“So the essence of this trade fair is to give women with disabilities a chance to sell the things that they have produced.
“So far, under the skills acquisition, we have trained over 300 of them at the moment in FCT and in Karu Local Government,” Ita said.
Ita also called on the government to implement all laws, policies that concerns PWDs to ensure their total inclusion in society.
He also urged relevant Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) to emulate DRAC’s initiative and come up with programmes that will be of positive impact to Persons with disabilities.
“The government has a lot of role to play in making disability law which was signed by Mr President but to ensure implementation.
“It is not just about signing something into law but how the implementation is going. DRAC is in the forefront of ensuring that these things happen.
“We are still calling on the government to press on people that are building the structures to make everywhere inclusive so that with wheel chair they can move around the market freely,
“It is our trademark to always champion the first, so we are calling on all CSOs, disability-based organisations to follow up on what we are doing,” Ita said.
Mr Lawrence Idemudia, Acting, Director, Social integration, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, commended DRAC for the laudable initiative which he appealed should be sustained and emulated by others.
Idemudia also urged Nigerians to patronize their products to encourage them.
“We have come here to see and to take reports back to the commission, so that that the next edition will be bigger than this. It is a step in the right direction.
“Most often, now these people are away from the field to earn a living with their hands and creativity so, I think they are doing well.
“And again, we have to patronize them so that they can have money for their living.
“We in the commission will try to encourage them to do more and add them to the society so that people will know that there is ability in disability,” Idemudia said.
One of the beneficiaries, Rashida Isah from Kuje Area Council, FCT, thanked DRAC for the empowerment and support which she said now made her to see herself as an abled woman.
“I am very excited to be in this trade fair today and I brought liquid soap, shampoo, conditioner and cream.
“My advice to women with disability is that they should not hide themselves. Let them come outside and show themselves so that people will see them and help them out.
“All thanks to DRAC for who I am today. I did not know how to do these things that I listed but now I can do more,” Isah said.
The fair held at the Garki International Market in Abuja for the PWDs brought items which includes handmade travel and hand bag and beads.
Other items included different liquid soaps, creams, detergents, mats, food and snacks amongst others.