By Shermain Bique-Charles
A recent protest by health care workers over outstanding risk pay should serve as motivation for local disabled people. That’s according to one advocate who is calling for the disabled community to also stand up against injustices levelled against them by the state.
Bernard Warner, president of the Antigua and Barbuda Association of Persons Living with Disabilities, told Observer that it is high time marginalised people speak up about their plight.
“We need to take a cue from the staff at Mount St Johns, we need to take a cue from the past where we used to rally together, walk together, stand together with each other,” he said.
Warner believes that without action, disabled people will continue to be at the bottom of the social ladder, poor and facing discrimination.
“There are still a lot of unseen and unheard challenges affecting disabled people in Antigua and Barbuda. They need to stand up and speak out, be more active in the media, be more active in helping each other,” Warner said.
According to Warner, who is also disabled, Covid has escalated many disabled people’s issues, some of which were never addressed adequately in the first place.
“Housing is the issue, transportation is the issue, there are many people who are not receiving adequate social help so they can live a standard level of life. The challenges continue, the fight is ongoing, the advocacy will never stop because the issue remains the same,” Warner said.
Problems with inadequate housing have long been a grievance for the association; its cries became louder after torrential floods damaged already precarious homes last November. Plans are reportedly underway to refurbish the homes of several disabled people, especially those compromised by the heavy rainfall.
The Director of the National Office of Disaster Services Philmore Mullin told Observer that Cabinet has already discussed ways to address the problem.
Mullin said once the Covid situation is under control, some of the properties hit will be renovated under the Home Advancement Programme for the Indigent (HAPI).