SOOVAN SHARMA DOOKHOO

 Following a paper of Sedley Assonne on FB some months ago entitled « Racism in the middle of the disabled », we are bound to agree that within the community of the differently abled, the mental zeal and the ability to surpass disabilities is second to none. Through coaching, proper infrastructure and right personnel, the development of people with disabilities remains one of the oldest battles since it relies on several factors while being a subject that brings together multiple communities out of different diseases.

I am a person born prematurely with multiple physical disabilities. I have acquired the academic skills and qualifications through the defined academic structure for each and every citizen of the Republic of Mauritius. It is indeed a hard-fought win. Despite numerous hindrances and thinking about giving up, I came out cultured and in line to complete my Masters in Business Administration.

Recently, I was dumbfounded by an unusual discrimination which occurred within the community of people with disabilities. One former executive of Down Syndrome Mauritius who has proven experience of working with persons with disabilities in addition to years of field work, sent a text message of a sensitive nature and I was shocked that such a thing could happen on the part of a person who was once the hub, and shouldering the responsibility of a person with disability herself and was actively attending international conferences towards equity and accessibility for persons with disabilities.

It is unacceptable that a person who has participated in several international summits on Down syndrome came up with such a communal and unethical behaviour.  We are in a sensitive environment because there is a long way to go in order to improve on several levels. If in the present we create artificial barriers in a multiethnic country, the journey ahead will unfortunately result into a lost cause. Racism and communalism are to be discarded at any cost. It is of utmost importance to foster relations rather than creating differences.

If a person in the group brings up allegations, there is room to be worried. If we do not exclude differences and partiality to work together in conjunction, then the reforms will wait. Without solidarity, the community of persons with disabilities may inadvertently create a virtual barrier for itself.

Following investigations made from my side and in possession of data of a sensitive nature, I wish to lay emphasis on the importance to eradicate completely the artificial problem: that is say no to racism towards the community of persons with disabilities.

The Government is coming up with the Special Needs Education Authority, and policy measures creating room for a synergy between the convention of the United Nations, the National Disability Bill and the Special Needs Education Authority. However, to ensure that the enumerated policies are well implemented, it is of paramount importance that the persons, executives and facilitators working within the environment and with persons with disabilities are psychologically ready to cater for different types of disabilities from various classes of society, backgrounds, religious beliefs and ethnicities.

All people who infringe the sensitivity of people with disabilities or create racial barriers must be stopped. There is no place for individuals or groups of individuals who are going to take down the effigy that has been built through many years of negotiation and contribution of several people. If we want to facilitate and promote a healthy and easy life for persons with disabilities, it will have to be impartial and focus on a specific cause.