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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid