Posted: Friday, March 24, 2023. 4:56 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: This week the Belize Assembly of Persons with Diverse Abilities (BAPDA) launched a donation drive as well as an awareness campaign about the plight of the disabled community in Belize.
President Kenrick Theus reported that disabled persons in Belize are perhaps one of the most underserved sectors in this country; that the plight of the disabled in Belize is getting progressively worse; and that authorities are barely paying lip service.
He painted this dire picture of the lives of many of Belize’s disabled: “If you are able-bodied and you have a job and you’re saying to me that you cannot afford to eat and can barely afford to buy ramen and the basic stuff that you would want to eat, you can imagine of a disabled person who has no work, and who has to literally scrounge for everything that he or she wants to eat or drink. So literally we have people in Belize – and this is without exaggeration – we have disabled people in Belize that might not have eaten [in] the last three or four days. We have people in Belize that are living in homes that are so rat-infested that rats are eating at their feet. We have people in Belize who, they are living in a house, disabled again, they are getting wet every time there is rain or a sprinkle. So it’s enough to talk about this; we have to try to do more. And I am tired of the lip service that is being paid to it by all these different departments and stuff. So, since we are tired of it and we can’t change it, we decide that we will try to get up and do more for them.”
BAPDA’s current support is $1,200 from the Government, $200 from the Belize City Council and $400 from Heritage Bank per month – they have to literally beg for anything else.
According to the organization, funding for projects is not there and so it is launching a campaign for assistance from corporate citizens and Belizeans in the Diaspora. Theus explained that while organizations and individuals in the United States have been engaged to help, there are shipping costs to meet to get wheelchairs, adult diapers, bandages, and gauze which are common supplies. BAPDA is also looking to obtain a disability bus to get people to attend clinics for check-ups and services such as obtaining prosthetic limbs. (It was noted that a protocol for its usage has been written up by the Ministry of Human Development and awaits the Minister’s signature.)
The Association considers it especially important to obtain wheelchairs and materials to build access ramps for houses off the ground. Theus noted that the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) only allows its supply of wheelchairs to be used to get around the hospital.
Theus estimates that it will cost about $1,500 a month for shipping costs – but they have linked up with a group willing to send 440 wheelchairs a month and assist with storage, measurement, and other associated issues.
If you wish to help, contact the BAPDA office at 673-0724 or visit it at the Samuel Haynes Institute of Excellence Building off Mahogany Street, Belize City, behind the Police Sub-station and across from Sadie Vernon Technical High School.
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