By Moipone Letsosa and Motlakamang Mohlokoane
Disability is not inability but what makes inability is the lack of services that people living with disabilities need in order to make ends meet for themselves. The way they are treated by other people and minimal opportunities presented to them.
Lesotho National Association of the Physical Disabled (LNAPD) celebrated mobility month on the 24th May 2023 and this is a norm/custom for them every May. The Lesotho Association for people with disabilities works to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities brought upon by discrimination. They are also in need of donations for travel aids.
The chairperson of LNAPD, Pascalina Letsau pointed out one of their challenges as lack of travel aids/equipment such as wheelchairs, crutches and calipers because if they do not have those they find themselves handy capped and immobile. She also indicated their other challenge as the environment they live in. On the pavements where people should be walking, there are street vendors displaying their goods and this makes it hard for other people to move freely but it becomes even harder for the disabled to maneuver around such tiny, crowded spaces. The way some offices are built is also their concern as they fail to reach where they are supposed to ask for services they need- particularly where there are stairs. Meaning most building, walkways, streets and towns in general and not wheelchair friendly. And if what we strive for as the country is inclusion then we ought to include all citizens irrespective of their different conditions.
On how they are treated by other people, Mrs. Thembane Mabaso spoke on behalf of the people who are on wheelchairs that the treatment they receive is not pleasant. She said she sometimes finds herself shedding tears because of how badly they get treated by public transport drivers and their reasoning on why they cannot accommodate them and their wheelchairs in their cars.
She further appealed to people without disabilities to have compassion for those who do not have power to change their conditions. It was said that discrimination has to come to an end as people with disabilities are also humans who are differently abled. Disabled people asked for financial assistance from social development because they are not able to work which means they are financially unstable. One of them mentioned she had applied for a grant a couple of years ago but she has not received any communication from social development to date.
This is where Mrs. Mpho Makhetha P.R.O from social development explained that they had not been funding the disabled and that was only last year when the disability grant was introduced. She also explained that they completed assessments for disability grant in Botha-Bothe and Leribe. For one to qualify to apply for the grant on application they need a letter from the doctor, identity card (ID) or a birth certificate if it is a child and a letter from the village chief. However; before approving the request, social development will make a social assessment to verify that the person qualifies for the grant.