#Bahamas, November 30, 2021 – Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obadiah Wilchcombe has said his ministry will adopt the You Are Someone program in the first quarter of 2022 to ensure the disability community is included in all aspects of society.
Minister Wilchcombe was addressing the organized church service (Sunday, November 28 at Living Waters Kingdom Ministries) to officially launch Disability Awareness Week in the Bahamas. The week runs from November 27 to December 4 under the theme: “Inclusion for all”.
Inclusion, said Minister Wilchcombe, has been more of a word than action.
“The Bible tells us that our gifts open doors,” Minister Wilchcombe told his internal and virtual audience. “The Bible doesn’t say you have to be able or live with a disability; the Bible says we all have gifts and we should all use our gifts, and leaders should do what they can to enhance those gifts and make them useful for communities, for societies, for our country.
“My goal here today is to tell you that over the next few months, all the things that you thought were left, gathered dust, will be lifted, will be part of the dialogue in this country and will be part of the action. taken by the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development (to ensure inclusion). I thank you. I like you. You are somebody.
Speaking formally for the very first time (outside of the House of Assembly) as a Minister regarding one of the units under his purview, Minister Wilchcombe told community members that the “You are someone ”(the name is taken from the words of United States civil rights icon Reverend Jesse Jackson) will help address some of the many issues that the Bahamian disability community still faces.
“I have a problem with the fact that so many of you, in general, feel marginalized; I have a problem because you must not be considered separate and different in our communities; I have a problem because inclusion has been more of a word than an action, that there is always discrimination, that we haven’t done some of the things that we were supposed to do legislatively; that you still don’t have the transportation you should have.
“We still have not created the Foundation which was intended to raise funds. The truth is, we haven’t completed the agenda, we did not do what we should have done, so I have come to tell you that my department will adopt, in the first quarter of next year, a simple program for people with disabilities and the program will be called – and I borrow the words of Jesse Jackson – “You are somebody” and we will do everything we can to make sure that you are included. “
Minister Wilchcombe said the department “will lead by example”.
“I will make sure that in the ministry itself, we lead by example. Those who want to discriminate and don’t want to provide jobs and jobs, well I don’t see why you can’t be receptionists; I don’t see why you can’t work across the Department; I do not see why the Ministry cannot lead by example and inspire others to follow. And so we will lead. My goal is to make sure that you appreciate that you are loved, and that you are appreciated ”,
Minister Wilchcombe also shared the stories of his brother, Richard, who he says has autism, and his best friend, a woman, who has spent most of her life in a wheelchair.
“What I found most interesting about the two was that they were never excluded, always included, always individuals who were present with incredible ability and talent – in fact, my brother. always teases me by saying he can do things I can’t, “said Minister Wilchcombe. added.
By Matt Maura
On your mind: Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obadiah Wilchcombe addressing the Sunday church service which officially kicked off Disability Awareness Week in the Bahamas. The church service was held in Living Waters Kindom Ministries. The week runs from November 27 to December 4.
1st insertion: Bahamian Ambassador to CARICOM Her Excellency Leslie Miller-Brice (third from left) joined the disability community for the Sunday church service to kick off Disability Awareness Week in the Bahamas. Her Excellency is pictured with (from left to right): Mr. Kendrick Rolle, Disability Affairs Division; Miss Christina Fernander, Secretariat, National Commission for People with Disabilities; Ms. Desire Clarke, Assistant Secretary, Secretariat, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (to the left of Her Excellency); Ms. Annette Lunn, Sign Language Interpreter / Deaf or Hard of Hearing Community; Mr. Kelvin Lunn and Miss Tamera Lunn.
2nd insertion: Ms. Annette Lunn provides sign language interpretation for the deaf and hard of hearing community during the Sunday church service. Sign language interpreters help bridge the communication gap for the community. Sign languages are an extremely important communication tool for members of the deaf and hard of hearing community.
(BIS Photo / Ulric Woodside)