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October 22, 2013

Ambassadors Pledge to Empower People with Disabilities

by Kim Lewis

The international human rights N-G-O, Light for the World, dedicated to empowering people with disabilities through community rehabilitation, announced an alliance that will focus on giving a voice to people with disabilities in developing nations.

The group says it has received a declaration of support from its newly formed international board of ambassadors, who have pledged to work towards creating an inclusive society for people who are treated as outcasts because of a disability.

Light for the World says on average persons with disabilities and households with a disabled member experience higher rates of deprivations including food insecurity, poor housing, and lack of access to water and sanitation. 

Gabriel Muller is director of public relations and international alliances for Light for the World.  He stated the international board of ambassadors is comprised of seven internationally renowned individuals that include Ethiopian running legend and Olympic medalist Haile Gebrselassie, and Kenyan Paralympic gold medalist Henry Wanyoike.

“We have several people, self-advocates, from Ethiopia and Kenya, up to Lord Joffe, who even defended Nelson Mandela in court in the 1960s.  So these people really have international influence and we think that they can make a difference if they raise their voice, if they use their networks to create support for the rights of persons with disabilities,” explained Muller.

Muller said while Light for the World is a specialized organization that focuses on eye diseases and blindness in developing countries, they also provide support for people with any type of disability.

He said from their research they see a cycle of disabilities leading to poverty, and poverty leading to disabilities.

“As we can see, also following the world report on disability by the W-H-O, (World Health Organization), and the World Bank, that households with members with disabilities usually have much lower income, have less access to sanitation, to medical care, education and so on.  So again, poverty is leading to disability, and disability is leading to poverty, especially in developing countries where most of the persons with disabilities are living on our planet,” emphasized Muller.

He said members of the board of ambassadors have already been partnering with developing countries on initiatives to give voice to those who might otherwise lose their dignity as well as the hope of living in an inclusive society.