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

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers 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.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More