News / Africa

Sierra Leone Police Hire Disabled Officers for First Time

Sheka Conteh answers phones at the police call centre, Freetown, February 1, 2013. (N. de Vries/VOA)Sheka Conteh answers phones at the police call centre, Freetown, February 1, 2013. (N. de Vries/VOA)
x
Sheka Conteh answers phones at the police call centre, Freetown, February 1, 2013. (N. de Vries/VOA)
Sheka Conteh answers phones at the police call centre, Freetown, February 1, 2013. (N. de Vries/VOA)
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 10 percent of people in Sierra Leone are living with a disability.  But for the first time in the country's history, people living with disabilities are now working in the police force.  The newly hired officers are hoping to inspire others. 

Sheka Conteh is one of four disabled officers working at the communications center of the Sierra Leone police force.  He answers calls from the public, similar to a 911 service in North America.

Conteh has a background in information technology and says when he saw the police were hiring disabled people, he jumped at the opportunity to apply.

He says it has been a challenging journey to find employment as a disabled person.  He contracted polio at the age of seven. 

"I've faced a lot discrimination in any community I find myself, but I've started to see positive changes, because it is now minimizing, especially in areas of employment," he said.

Workforce diversity

Francis Munu, the inspector general of the Sierra Leone police, says, when the Disability Act was passed in 2011, providing employment for those with disabilities became a priority for the police force.  He says those with disabilities bring a different face to the job.

"So that people can understand that policing is not just about using force all the time, we also need to engage people and communities, we need to get people to have trust and confidence in the police," he explained.

He says the program has been running for several months and has been going smoothly.

None of the officers are currently working on the street but that could happen in the future, says Munu.

"We want to change the way people perceive disability issues and even the way disabled perceive themselves or their fellow disabled persons.  So if they see some of their colleagues working, being gainfully employed, then they are also motivated to work hard at school and try to invest in themselves," he said.

Change is something Kabba Franklyne Bangura, president of the Sierra Leone union on disability issues, wants to see too. 

Bangura says police force hirings are a step in the right direction but more needs to be done, specifically for unemployment.  According to a Handicap International study, 95 percent of those with disabilities in Sierra Leone are unemployed.

Legacy of civil war

Many people became disabled during the country's civil war in the 1990's when rebel fighters amputated peoples' limbs.

Bangura says the organization is doing what it can to make life easier for the disabled community.  Currently, the union is creating profiles of people who are qualified to work in various job sectors.  The plan is to have a national press conference to showcase their skills to potential employers this spring.

"Here are many disabled we have profiled - we have their documents, we have their qualifications, here they are, see what they possess and see what they can do if given the opportunity," Bangura said.

He adds that the 2011 Disability Act still has not been implemented.  The act calls for the creation of a national commission which was just recently established.  Bangura hopes things will now start to move at a quicker pace for those with disabilities.

Back at the call center, Shekah Conteh says what he wants most is to inspire others living with disabilities.

"The advice I can give is any opportunity that comes their way, let them grab it and make good use of it as I have done," he said.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid