The President, Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN), Mr. Bolaji Akinola, on Wednesday urged journalists to show love to persons with disabilities despite the financial constraints.
Akinola made the plea when he led members of the association on a visit to Atunda-Olu Physically-Challenged School in Surulere, Lagos, where the association donated various food items to the children as part of activities to mark the 25th anniversary of the association.
He lauded the Anglican Communion for giving hope of a better future to persons with disability and praised the Lagos government for its welfare policy.
“We thought that out of the very, very little that we have, let us also come and share with our brothers and sisters who are students here. But I am very happy by the decision of our association to be here to reach out across the divide to Atunda –Olu. What I am seeing here, honestly, is highly impressive.
“One must commend the Government of Lagos State for breathing life into this school; it is quite commendable that they are not allowing initiatives like this to die. Imagine if these wonderful children were to be left on their own, they probably would be on the streets and they would have no future to look forward to.
“But because of what the Anglican has done and what the Lagos State Government has further done, they have a hope, they have a future, they have things they are looking forward to. They are growing up despite their handicap, they are learning a trade, they are learning how to read and write, that is quite commendable,” he stated.
Earlier, the Principal of the school, Mrs Folashade Michael, urged Non-Governmental Organisations across the country to complement government’s effort at taking care of the children with disabilities in the society.
Michael said that there was need for government’s efforts to be complemented.
She said that the cost of taking care of a physically-challenged child would be equivalent of the costs of taking care of four able-bodied children.
Michael said that the school was for children with polio and some other form of diseases.
The principal added that the school admitted children with learning difficulties, intellectual difficulties, speech and social problems.
“Apart from academic work that is done in the school; we do vocational works too, and we train the children to empower them because we do not believe in begging. We don’t want our children to go on the streets and beg; so we empower the children. We have different vocations; in the school, we have a block meant for vocational work.
“We do leather works, we make shoes and bags, slippers for men and women, for children too and we do hair dressing. We have a section for home economics where we teach them how to bake, how to cook, then, we have computer, dress making, hair dressing. We have tie and dye; those are what we do in the school. Apart from that the government feeds the children every day. They give them lunch every day. They come to school – it’s not residential – we bring them to school, we return them back to their homes. All these are done free, courtesy the state government,” she said.
Michael expressed appreciation to MARAN for complementing government’s effort, adding that members of the association should not hesitate to visit the school anytime.