MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): A three-year program for balanced progress of people with disabilities was launched in northern Balkh province on Thursday.
The program is financed by the European Union and being implemented by Martyrs and People with Disabilities Department, and Swedish Committee for Afghanistan in north.
Najibullah Kohistani, head of Martyrs and People with Disabilities Department in north, said that the aim of the program was to pay special care to people with disabilities.
He said unofficial figures showed more than 10,000 of people with war related disabilities lived in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province and only 4,000 of them availed government services.
Kohistani said still some organizations were indifferent to the disabled persons, a culture that needed to be ended.
This program would also provide educational and job opportunities for disabled people, he said.
Najibullah Yazdanpanah, SCA programs coordinator in north, mentioned poverty, illiteracy and lack of jobs as major challenges people with disabilities faced.
He said the balanced progress program would focus on identifying problems of people with disabilities and finding solutions to them.
“Public treatment of people with disabilities should be fundamentally changed, it is only possible when we talk closely with people and realize them that disability is not inability,” he said.
Yazdanparast said people with disabilities also had the right to live like other people and avail services without any discrimination.
Parwana Samadi, head of Association of Women with Disabilities in Mazar-i-Sharif, said many disabled people still faced discrimination in families.
She said that changing minds about people with disabilities should be started from families.
“I know girls with disabilities are prevented from joining wedding and other joyful parties, parents take their healthy children for outing but leave their disabled children at home,” she said.
Samadi said that there was serious need for public programs for changing people’s minds regarding disabled class of the society.
Rohullah, a resident of Mazar-i-Sharif, who is blind in both eyes, said his disability was not an inability.
The law student said the concept about disabled people in society required a change. He said that the government should pay attention to this issue so people with disabilities also benefit from the rights given to other people in the society.
“Many people with disabilities still lack access to education, and those who receive education cannot find jobs”, he added.