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Government should make laws to help people with special needs

By Esther Ijewere-Kalejaiye   |   14 January 2017   |   3:22 am
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Yetunde Tanimomo

Founder –Miss Abilty Pageant
A graduate of Mass Communication from the Nigeria Institute for Journalism, Yetunde has worked in various sectors including Construction, Manufacturing and recently resigned from a bank to focus on her passion to care for girls and women with special needs.

After several meetings with Founders, Executive Director Foundations, NGOs, and government agencies, Miss Tanimomo and her team are convinced that a change in peoples’ perception of what they term ‘disability’ will help in pushing for policies that will create an environment that would foster proper care for people with special needs.

Early Preparation
Initially you feel nothing did but I have come to realise that our past prepares us for what lies ahead. Because we do not see the future we tend to feel the present is just passing by. However, I have come to understand that we are shaped by experiences for what is to come. Losing my dad showed me what it means to be needy, having children around me brought out the love and care. Both attributes are necessary for what I am doing.

Meet Me!
I am Yetunde Tanimomo, a graduate of Mass Communication from the Nigeria Intitute for Journalism Ogba. I have worked in various sectors including Construction, Manufacturing and banking. I am also deep into Interior Decorations.I have a passion for Children and women with special needs. A passion specifically targetted at care for girls and women with special need

Inspiration behind Miss Ability Pageant
I saw a very beautiful young lady. She was strikingly beautiful and though she had special needs I noticed what I saw first wasn’t how she was? For several years that face never left me and I kept thinking about how to showcase such beauty to the world starting from home of course. That is what gave birth to Miss Ability Pageant.
Future Plans
I intend to work with other NGOs, Foundations to advocate for a better living condition for people with special needs. This will involve a lot of public sensitization on Mass Media, Social Media and the likes. We intend to hold seminars for parents with children or loved ones with special needs.

Leaving banking for social work
I wanted to stop talking about my passion and start to do something about it. I needed time away from ‘work’ to be able to face the project. So at that point it was the right move. I will get back to working. I need the time to lay a process in place for the foundation. To put structures in place. I believe I will need to work to also fund the project. I don’t want to rely on Government, organisations and other individuals alone.

Giving Up
Giving up for me is never an option. Whatever I take up I give all I can to see it through. I won’t deny the fact that there haven’t been times when I felt overwhelmed when I look at how huge the task is. For this I have been able to assemble people who share the passion so it’s easier to share ideas and strategize for upcoming programmes and the next move.
Another challenge is that you have to manage people who already have a set mind concerning people with special needs . Many of them are dumped in trash heaps. Some are probably terminated before birth because of the stigma associated with having a child with such needs. It will take some time but pretty soon we will get people appreciating them.

Challenges
Many folks are ashamed of their children or ward with special needs and as such they keep them locked up away from society. It’s hard to reach such children or persons.
People feel a sense of pity. They go ‘eeyah’ whenever they see anyone with special needs. They do not need pity but encouragement and love.
Getting Government and corporate organisations to support the move is proving a bit difficult. So many promises. Do you know what can be achieved if corporate organisations start to get people with special needs as brand ambassadors? Let them start with the Paralympians who have done the Nation Proud at the Olympics. That single feat will encourage others can and start to change people’s perception of ability in what they term disability.

Nigerians compassionate enough to kids with special needs?
Compassionate? yes, enough? No. What they need is not pity. They get a lot of that. But encouragement, empowerment and a chance like they give to everybody else. I want to see people with special needs having equal opportunities at getting jobs like the other folks. I want to see government enacting laws that will give enabling environment for people with special needs to move freely and have access to facilities like others. Look at virtually all public and commercial buildings, only few have parking spaces or entrances for people on wheel chairs and the blind.

Advice to women in same field
It’s all about passion driven by love and care. So do not look at how huge the task is. Just start one step at a time. Keep the passion fire burning. Get people who can help you. If a dream requires only you to carry it out then the dream is small.

I am a Woman of Rubies
I refuse to be limited by situations and circumstances. I have chosen to devote time to loving people with special needs especially girls and women. I want them to know their life shouldn’t necessarily be determined by what society thinks about them. They are worth much more. I intend to empower them so that society will view them differently and help out.


In this article:
Yetunde Tanimomo


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