The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in article 12 stipulates that any person/institution shall participate in the legal and social inclusion of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). According to the World Health Organization, 15% of the world population is made of disabled people. Between November 2014 and February 2015, I conducted a research within the city of Yaounde in Cameroon to understand how Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) participate in the psychosocial inclusion of PwDs. Eleven PwDs and six leaders of one the FBO were interviewed using an interview grid and data were analyzed through a thematic analysis of content. The research showed gaps in the legal and the social framework for the integration of PwDs in FBOs.
|Table 1.Psychosocial Integration|
|· Participation of PwDs in interviews.
· The PwDs were happy to express themselves on their lived experience within the organization.
· Most of the PwDs were active within the community.
· PwDs were not complaining about their status within the community but would like that improvements be made.
|· Absence of a system of identification and training.
· Absence of structural and functional organization for PwDs.
· Absence of legal foundations (Laws, rules, regulations, disability council)
· Absence of strategies (Awareness, Capacity building, Attitude Change)
· Low participation of PwDs forcing the study to be qualitative without being able to include the quantitative aspect.
The study provided an in-depth understanding of the psychosocial integration of PwDs in that institution but the small sample size restricted our work to a qualitative study. Although it provides detailed information on the study group, the generalization of the results in the city of Yaounde and beyond its borders remains questionable. Moreover, the limitation of the scope of this work does not allow a comparison of the inclusion of PwDs within other social institutions. Nonetheless, Leaders could apply the recommendations made.
Data were collected from adults who could deeply express themselves. Most of them were happy that for the first time interest was shown especially concerning their role in social change. There was also gender balance in the sample (6 women and 5 men) but there were no children with disabilities represented in the study (the youngest person was 34 years old). Further studies may need to be done to understand the reasons for the absence of Children with Disabilities and to check if it is the case in other community-based structures.
One may ask why such a study and why FBOs? Observations show an increase in the number of faith-based leaders and institutions that participate in community development. For example with the refugee crisis in Syria, CNN portrayed faith based organizations among the first to offer a secure shelter to migrants mostly women and children. More can be done in this area for disabled people during emergency situations. On the other hands, there is a strong lifecycle between disability and poverty that can be broken through the investments of FBIs involved in social and human development.
The study was able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the process of inclusion of the PwDs within that faith based organization. The various challenges faced by the institution to integrate the PwDs in its mission could be addressed through the revision of the legislative and institutional framework, the strengthening of the capacity of key stakeholders, the strengthening of the capacities of the PwDs, and networking.
Key words: UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; Children with Disabilities; Faith-Based Organizations; Persons with Disabilities; Psychosocial Integration.
By Hervé-Boris NGATE,Masters Intercultural Studies.
Read the CRPD on http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml