Consultation on ‘Towards Inclusive Society: From Disability Perspective
The National Council of Churches in India’s (NCCI) Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment (IDEA) joined with the Engage Disability Network (EDN) and Christian Service Agency (CSA) to organize a consultation on ‘Towards Inclusive Society: From Disability Perspective” at NCCI Campus on 21st July 2015.
30 participants including persons with disabilities, activists, social workers, pastors, academicians, educators, counselors and students participated in this consultation.
The consultation aimed to come-up with a few collective action plans to work at the grass-root communities to become inclusive by not considering the PWDs as burden or sending them to hostels and homes or make them socially isolated by our attitudes and behaviors including use of derogatory and abusive languages that stigmatize and discriminate the PWDs.
Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, the General Secretary – NCCI, in his presidential address informed that the NCCI has developed a work place policy where there will be ‘zero discrimination’ on the basis of physical fitness, caste, creed, gender and generation in working environment of NCCI. He also suggested that, all the organizations and churches and other religious institutions must have such policies that promotes inclusiveness.
Rev. Amin Kalwale, Pastor at All Saints Cathedral, Nagpur, presented a paper on ‘Inclusive Church’. He mentioned that the churches and other faith communities have to be sensitive towards people with special needs and they have to become disable-friendly by constructing ramps and such. Also he suggested to develop and produce liturgies and publications considering the PWDs in Braille and other such means of communication.
Ms. Ashrita Bhelwa, an educationalist from St. Ursula Girls High School, Nagpur, informed the participants that, every human has right to schooling including the children with disabilities. She suggested that every school and educational institution has to be inclusive not only having and developing disabled-friendly infrastructure but also admitting children from all types of disabilities with all necessary systems including appointing a teacher who could communicate using sign language while the other teacher is teaching the same subject in the classroom. She pointed out such measures would definitely motivate the younger generations to become inclusive in their living environments and in the future also.
Mr. Philip Alloysis, a trainer shared the living testimony of of Arunima Sinha a National Basket Ball Player and the first person with disability to have climbed Mount Everest. Further he said that the ‘major disability in our society today is in the minds of the able that excludes and discriminates the PWDs.’
Rev. Christopher Rajkumar, Executive Secretary, Commission on Justice, Peace and Creation (NCCI) and the Director of IDEA noted that, the ‘visible disability has become invisible in the society at large since the society, socially and psychologically isolates the PWDs from access in the public spheres of community life’. He also, spoke about how the society could become inclusive by realizing and accepting the PWDs as they are by recognizing their limitations and accompany them in their life journey.
Mrs. Cynthia Shinde organized the programme and facilitated the discussions. She shared her story as a PWD and the challenges to become part of the mainstream of the society. She shared that the support of family is important and that makes even the PWDs to feel being included. Earlier she welcomed the gathering.
Mr. Sathia Rabbin Das proposed the vote of thanks and Rev. Anand Michael offered the prayer. The consultation has decided to work with all the care-giving institutions and faith communities to sensitize the society to become inclusive.
Reported by the:
NCCI Commission on Justice, Peace and Creation