Mostafa Kamal Majumder
The Workability International Asia will have its next annual general meeting on in Dhaka in November 2020, it was decided at a board meeting of the organisation held on 25-26 November at the Bangladesh Pratibandhi Kalyan Samity (BPKS) complex in the Dakhskin Khan area, on the Northeastern fringe of the metropolitan city of Dhaka. The programme was rounded off with a rousing reception hosted by BPKS chief executive officer Abdus Sattar Dulal at his Uttara residence.
Suporntum Monkolsawadi (Tan), chairperson of Workability International Asia who spoke briefly at the reception from his wheelchair narrated the activities of the organisation to make physically or mentally challenged people workable and brings smiles to the faces of their families, which he said, is very important.
The working spirit he demonstrated and the depth of his statement bemused the audience of about 40 people who attended the reception followed by dinner. He spoke with the aura of a committed community leader and strong confidence.
The mission is not only to work for the betterment of disabled persons but also mobilise the society to adopt a policy of inclusion and integrate them with the rest of the population.
Abdus Sattar Dulal, the disability rights champion of UNESCAP called for building an inclusive society so that disabled people, children, women and elderly people who comprise about 52 percent of the population do not remain deprived of the opportunity to avail the public amenities.
He said that engineers and architects should keep the convenience of a hundred percent of the population in mind when designing buildings, roads, public toilets, and all modes of transport. At the moment these amenities are built without keeping the majority of the people in mind.
It is also necessary to appoint doctors and nurses well-versed in the Braille and sign languages used by disabled persons to communicate with people in hospitals, schools and important public places. If a doctor doesn’t understand the language of a speech-impaired person how he will give the person medical treatment. This is a serious problem, he said.
As consumers physically and mentally challenged people also pay taxes which constitute a major part of the government’s revenue earnings. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the government to see to it that at least the tax paid by them are spent for their welfare.
Important persons including Prof. Milan Pagan, Vice-Chancellor of the Independent University of Bangladesh, State Minister for Social Welfare Sharif Ahmed MP and Fahmi Gulandaz Babel MP, Dr. Shamimn Ferdous, Executive Director, Bangladesh Protibandhi Foundation, country representative of Ukaid, Jim McAlpine, representative of the UN country director, Heike Alefsen, Second secretary of the Embassy of Japan Kenji Ebihara, Mahbubul Islam, secretary-general, Society of Justice were present among others in the reception.
First published in The Asian Age, Dhaka on 9 December 2019.
(The writer is the Editor of GreenWatch Dhaka and Consultant Editor, The Asian Age, Dhaka.)