Thursday, March 22, 2012

Crippled Congo

The outlook for people living with disabilities in the Democratic Republic of Congo remains bleak

"There are roughly 9.1 million people with disabilities in Congo, 11 percent of the total population of 60 million," said Patrick Pindu, coordinator of the National Federation of Associations of People Living with a Disability in Congo. "Amongst people with disabilities, 90 percent are illiterate, 93 percent are jobless and 96 percent live in an unhealthy and inhumane environment."

Jolie Apelo is a member of the Kikwit Association of Disabled Persons. "As you see me here, I don't eat properly due to a lack of financial resources. I'm unable to buy clothes so I can present myself like a human being worthy of the name, even if I am a member of an association."

Godefroid Kiyaka gets around the capital, Kinshasa, on his hands and knees because of the extreme deformity of his legs. "I don't have a wheelchair to go longer distances," he told IPS. "Many people turn away from me when I ask them for donations."

22-year-old Alphonse Mumbaka relies on crutches for limited mobility. His father died when he was young, and left to his own devices, Mumbaka never went to school or learned to read. "No one educated me."

"It's not acceptable that the government still doesn't get involved in resolving the problems facing the disabled. These people must enjoy their full rights like everyone," said Cyrile Mupasa, from the League for the Defence of the Rights of Children and Students in the Central Africa zone.

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