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Were the democratic rights of persons with disabilities violated?


Fri, Oct 15, 2010

Editor: Please afford me space in your newspaper to outline an important issue. On Saturday, October 9, The National Society for Persons with Disabilities (NSPD) held its annual general meeting at the University of the West Indies Open Campus, located in Kingstown.{{more}}

I would like to take this opportunity to commend Mr. Harvey Farrell on his presentation of the topic ‘Wellness Revolution for persons with Disabilities.’ It is hoped that both Mr.Farrel and Dr. George will convey the suggestion made at the meeting to the Ministry of Health, to ensure that greater attention is paid to the health of persons living with disabilities.

An important aspect of the meeting was the presentation of the various reports from the incumbent president, secretary and treasurer. The president’s report failed to address the current issues and was riddled with outdated information. An example of this was demonstrated in her mentioning an incident which occurred in 2005. Editor, I am perplexed by a statement made by the Vice President of the organization. Before questions could be asked after the president’s report, he commenced by stating ‘I know the president’s report shouldn’t be questioned.’ If this is true, then who are we as members supposed to seek clarification from?

The Treasurer’s report followed that of the president’s. Mr. Mackenzie, the Treasurer’s report was poorly done and was riddled with inconsistencies. Are we to assume that the general consensus is that because we are disabled we can be easily misled? Mr. Mackenzie quoted figures that just didn’t add up. He mentioned that EC$3,000 was allocated for travel. When questioned as to who and where they travelled to, no suitable answers were provided. Additionally, Mr. Mackenzie stated that the organization currently receives $30,000 per year from the government as a subvention, yet he continued to lament the need for additional funding. Why are additional funds necessary when only 8 scholarships are given with the current funding?

Disappointed in electoral process

The most important matter to be conducted at the meeting was the election of a new executive for a 2-year term (2010-2012). Mr. Mackenzie apologized for the absence of Mr. Hall before the elections began as he was not well, and was unable to attend assist with the electoral process.

Editor, I was disappointed in the manner in which the electoral process was conducted. We the members of the organization were not given the opportunity to elect the executive. A motion to return the current executive: Mrs. Patricia Cumberbatch, president, Vice President Mr. Stanley Richards, Treasurer Mr. McKenzie and Secretary Ms. Shirley Charles was made by Ms.Viola John. The motion was seconded by Ms. Charles. Mrs. Hall then proposed that the present committee be reinstated for another 2 years. That ended the electoral process and consequently denied us of our democratic right to elect a new executive.

My reason for writing this letter is to air my concern as I feel that persons who are disabled are often ill treated and discriminated against. What I have outlined above wouldn’t take place in any other organization. I am not happy with what transpired and after speaking to other members of the organizations, many have expressed their dissatisfaction also.

The opportune time

This is the opportune time for Mrs.Cumberbatch and the other members of the executive to realize that the business of the organization should not be conducted in this manner. They often claim that persons with disabilities are not treated fairly by the public, yet they do the same thing.

I spoke to Mrs.Cumberbatch during the break period of the meeting and inquired if she was interested in re-election. She expressed to me, that she wanted someone else to get a chance to lead. Why then didn’t she object to the motion by Mrs John and decline the nomination? I am tired of the NSPD been controlled by able bodied persons, who don’t seem to have the interest of the disabled at heart. I am by no means suggesting that we in the disabled community do not need the assistance of our able bodied citizens; however, I firmly believe that the decision making within the organization should be placed in our hands.

By keeping Mrs.Cumberbatch as the president for another term, which isn’t endorsed by the majority of the members within the organization, the organization would be stagnant and would not function properly. I am disappointed with Mrs. Cumberbatch as a christian and also a disabled individual. How could she have let what transpired on October 9th happen? Most of the members were surprised by it and feel that it was all planned. I am calling on Mrs.Cumberbatch to call fresh elections, and let us decide who we want to lead us freely and fairly. Whatever we do, we must do it honestly, as there is a God above looking down on us and keeping records.

In conclusion, I am encouraging persons with disabilities to educate themselves, so such an incident would not recur. We must capitalize on all opportunities, such as enrolling in the various adult literacy programs within our communities, thus enabling us to gain meaningful employment and reduce our dependency on the organization.

A Concerned Member