By Philip Yatai

The Kaduna State Disability Affairs Board has empowered 41 Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) who graduated from its rehabilitation centre in Kaduna with starter packs for self-reliance.

The starter packs were handed over to the PWDs in Kaduna on Saturday, during a graduation ceremony at the rehabilitation centre located in Kakuri, Kaduna South Local Government Area of the state.    

The starter packs include grinding machines, sewing machines, welding tools, carpentry packs, weaving machines, knitting tools, and shoe making tool kits among others.

The Executive Secretary of the Board, Malam Aliyu Yakasai, said that the ceremony was part of activities to commemorate the 2022 International Day of People with Disabilities.

Yakassai said that the beneficiaries were trained for at least three years and equipped with self-reliant skills that would enable them to live quality lives and contribute to societal development.

He said that the effort was part of Gov. Nasir El-Rufai-led administration’s commitment to mainstream PWDs in the scheme of things in the state and leaving no one behind.

“This is part of the state government’s youth development and empowerment effort to ensure inclusion of PWDs in economic, social, and political space.

“We are, therefore, calling on parents, religious and community leaders to support the empowerment and recognition of PWDs as integral part of the society with potential to contribute to development endeavours.  

“But more importantly, the community must support the efforts by patronising the products or services of the PWDs to ensure the success of the programme.

The executive secretary said that to ensure that the starter packs were not sold, parents of each beneficiary would sign an undertaking promising that the starter packs would not be sold.

Also, Hajiya Hafsat Baba, Commissioner for Human Services and Social Development, said that two additional rehabilitation centres, one each in Soba and Jaba LGAs would soon be inaugurated.

Baba, who was represented by Hajiya Maryam Mu’azu, said that the goal was to increase access skills acquisition opportunities by the disability community based on their skill interest and form of the disability.

She reiterated the state government commitment to improve the quality of life of the disability community by ensuring their inclusion in governance and decision-making processes.

The Centre Manager, Mr Auwal Shuaibu, thanked parents for the show of love and support to the PWDs to complete their training.

“Now that they have completed their training and are empowered with starter packs, please support them to put the skills and the starter pack to good use and be financially independent,” he said.

Also, Mr Suleiman Abdulazeez, Chairman, Joint National Association of People with Disabilities (JONAPWD), Kaduna State Chapter, commended the state government for the efforts.

According to him, the gesture will significantly improve the quality of life of the beneficiaries and improve the standard of the living of their families.

One of the beneficiaries, a 70-year-old Ibrahim Muhammad, who learned welding, thanked the government for the gesture, saying the skills and the support has given him a fresh start in life.

“I enrolled for the training programme because I was tired of begging and wanted to do something to fend for myself.

“I am so happy that finally I have a skill that I can put to use to make money and take care of my basic needs,” Muhammadu said.

Another beneficiary, Nuhu Usman, 20, equally said that he enrolled for the skill acquisition training to be self-reliant, describing skills as the “inexcusable currency” for persons with disability.

His visibly elated father, Malam Usman Bala, described the graduation as a new beginning for his boy who would soon set up his business of welding and make some good money for himself.

Similarly, Deborah Samaila said: “I am so happy to have graduated today after four years of training and learning.

“Now I am going back to my community to do something meaningful and useful to myself, my family and community.”