Friday, February 1, 2013

Week One: Tracy & Jenna's Best Bits

Week one has been filled with so many wonderful things; we have met so many people and had so many interesting experiences it is hard to pinpoint just one.  Bringing home a live chicken from the market certainly needs a mention, but I think our focus group session with the Disabled Persons’ Organisation (DPO) in Fumbisi might just top it.

As part of our project we are researching how people with disabilities might be able to be included into the Feok festival in December, and so we held a focus group in Fumbisi where we met so many wonderful people.  Unfortunately, many of these people are discriminated against by society; hidden away, ignored, and prevented from accessing local services, cultural activities, or playing a contributive role in society.  We asked them questions about their skills, and ways they could participate in the Feok festival, we talked to them about the issues they face as a disabled person, and what benefits they might receive by taking part in the festival.  

There was overwhelming support for our project, and although I left feeling they had extraordinarily, and perhaps unrealistically high expectations of us, I also felt that this project was more than helping them participate in a song and dance; this project is about giving them a voice and allowing them to be valuable members of society.  At times I felt incredibly emotional as members of the group told stories about being treated in the hospital car park because of the poor access facilities, or how feel they may as well be dead, but mainly from their spirit and determination to fight back.  I was holding back tears when the group burst into song, women ululated their appreciation, and as men and women of all ages and abilities clapped and danced to the music.  It is a memory that will stay with me for a long time.

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