A Christian medical ministry operating on hospital ships will mark the U.N. International Day of the Disabled on Sunday through participation in a week of festivities.
Mercy Ships Sierra Leone will join civil society groups and non-governmental organizations to raise awareness about the challenges faced by disabled persons across the nation from Dec. 1-5. The week will include discussion forums, a symposium and sports activities with the goal to facilitate integration and break down prejudices towards those disabled.
“We’re talking about an attitude that has developed over years, it’s almost part of our culture – leaving the disabled person aside,” said Mercy Ships New Step deputy director Ibrahim Bangura in a statement.
Bangura has personal experience with the disability issue, having lost control of his legs after suffering from polio as a child.
The project he helps direct, New Step, began in 2000 as an orthopedic workshop making prosthetic limbs and has since developed to consist of physiotherapy, orthopedic, counseling and educational services to more than 30 polio and amputee communities. This year, New Steps has provided more than 1,600 assistive devices and performed over 2,200 physical rehab interventions.
The U.N. General Assembly proclaimed the International Day of the Disabled Persons in 1992 with the aim to raise awareness of disabled people’s rights and the challenges they face. The day is observed annually on Dec. 3.