SIERRA LEONE:DST Awards Successful Persons with Disabilities

By Desmond Tunde Coker

Awardees and the High Table during the Graduation Ceremony

Awardees and the High Table during the Graduation Ceremony

The Dorothy Springer Trust (DST), a charitable organisation, in collaboration with Irish Aid on Thursday April 6, held it third graduation ceremony and presented the Disability Ambassador Award to five outstanding people with disabilities who have served as role model and an inspiration to others.

The occasion was held at the organisation’s Pultney Street office in Freetown with the theme: “Celebrating Successful Persons with Disabilities in Sierra Leone”.

The training programme aims at changing the lives of disabled people in Sierra Leone by preparing them for skilled employment in Information Communication Technology.

In his opening remark, the Director of British Council, Simon Ingram-Hill said his institution has a very good working relationship with DST, as he normally get students from the institution who go on internship every year.

He admonished people with disabilities not to look low upon themselves because of the condition they find themselves.

He registered British Council’s commitment in supporting disability issues in Sierra Leone.

The Chief Executive Officer of Dorothy Springer Trust, Dr Abdulai Dumbuya said the Trust was established as a result of a British woman who supported his education with her personal finances up to £100,000. He said the woman transformed his life from a person who would have been on the streets begging in Sierra Leone, to a now successful person who have acquired several qualifications and have a former successful career in the U.K., until he returned home after spending over 20 years in the UK.

He said that DST generates income through support from friends and supporters like Jessica/Emily Porter.

“I want to dove my hearts to all of you. We continue to raise funds locally through our small Internet cafe whose income we use to support the operations of the office. Funds raised from the UK are used for scholarship — We give each beneficiary money for transportation and feeding for the duration of the course e.g. 3, 7, 10 months,” he said.

He said that students were trained on Information Communication Technology including computer hardware and software, entrepreneurship, and employability skills, among other.

He said that they also provide training to non-disabled people. We have trained staff of British High Commission, Irish Embassy, GIZ, Local Content Policy and Mano River Union.

He added that The Dorothy Springer Trust has developed a very strong reputation among the diplomatic community and businesses in Sierra Leone.

“With support from British High Commission, we have empowered disabled women to acquire skills training to ensure they are employed and to pursue further education. Out of seven women trained in 2015, five are working, one has entered university and one is taking her final entry exams to university,” he said.

“Because of our philosophy to maintain quality training at all times, we today have a dilemma in this graduation,” he said.

He said that one student graduated, while other students have to clear their references before they could graduate.

Minister of Political and Public Affairs, Ms. Nanette Thomas congratulated the student who received his certificate and those who receive awards for their tremendous work. She called on those who did not graduate to step up to reach the mark.

Receiving award for his tremendous work as a Paralympics sportsman, George Wyndham said his role in society especially in sports should serve as an encouragement to all persons with disabilities that, disability is not inability.

Other persons with disabilities who were recognised include, former president of the Sierra Leone Union on Disability Issues (SLUDI), Kabba Franklyn Bangura; Ndapie; Francis Nydalima, a staff of SLBC, and Hon Nyia Julius Kofi, a lawyer.