By JOE GURINA
IT is always inspiring to see people living with disabilities doing extraordinary things to match able-bodied persons in some human endeavours such as music.
Thus it mellows the heart to see a visually-impaired person strumming a guitar or playing a keyboard instrument.
While the normal person can sometimes see where the fingers are moving to make the correct note, not so the blind; their fingers seem to taken over the gift of sight from the eyes.
It is quite mind-blogging for me as an able person to find out how these blind persons get the cords or notes right when plucking the guitar strings or hitting the keys on the keyboard.
From a religious perspective, we all are created in God’s own image. The wisdom of understanding of doing things has bestowed upon when we were delivered out of our mothers’ womb to live on earth.
Some of the visibly impaired were born that way while others unfortunately became blind through illness or other circumstances later in life.
However, these people are part of our community.
In all respects they have a right to be loved, cared for and supported within family circles, the community and up to the national level. They have and should enjoy the same privileges as normal persons.
And that is where the National Government’s obligation comes into play in looking after the welfare and needs of people living with disabilities (PLWDs). They have every right like all other human beings.
Cheshire Homes in Hohola, Port Moresby has been doing tremendous job in caring for such people.
It gets its funding from other organisations and private entrepreneurs to help run its operations.
In a recent milestone, Central Provincial Government, under the leadership of Robert Agarobe made provision for a representative of PWLDs in its provincial executive council (PEC).
Also the Department of Community Development, Youth and Religion also doing some wonderful work in addressing the issues affecting PLWDs.
I was fascinated to witness a group of visually-impaired individuals getting recognised by the Department through their talents at a gathering a few weeks ago.
They call themselves the White Cane Band and they are musicians who are all visually-impaired.
The department recently donated K18,000 to the band for them to purchase musical instruments since they have been borrowing instruments to participate at occasions.
It was a surprise gesture for this band when the Minister responsible, Soroi Eoe and Secretary Anna Solomon presented a dummy cheque to the band two Fridays ago. The donation has ended their borrowing of instruments to entertain at occasions.
The band provided entertainment during the opening of the department’s own studio.
Minister Eoe said it was fitting to support the group after witnessing them perform at a recent Apec consultation in Port Moresby.
“I saw their need so discussed the matter with Secretary Anna Solomon, given the fact that they have been borrowing instruments.
“And so we came up with the notion to donate K18,000 and from now onwards they can use their own instruments to perform wherever they wish to perform,” Eoe said.
The significance of the event was all about recognising PLWDs and their talents. They are part of a society and can contribute meaningfully with their talents.
Eoe and Solomon were both curious and speechless when the White Cane Band produced some stunning musical pieces that would normally be beyond PLWDs.
“It’s unbelievable to see how people with disabilities can produce such music with the talents they have. They are not disabled but are part of the able community,” Eoe remarked.
He said the donation to the band was part and parcel of the Government’s efforts to recognise their talents and place in society through the department.
Given the opportunity and being inspired by other vision-impaired persons, Simon the pianist, Dona the lead guitarist and Michelle the lead singer, proved to those who attended the event that with the skills they possessed, they were capable of doing what anyone else in this world can do.
According to Dona, the White Cane band was formed 10 years ago, inspired by a Braille boy’s band in Goroka, Eastern Highlands that travelled and performed throughout the highlands region. The name of the band is derived from the white cane that a vision impaired person or a blind person holds to help guide them.
On behalf of the band members, Dona thanked the Government for recognising their talents and providing the much-needed funds to buy their new instruments.
He said despite disability they have equal rights as able persons and deserved the same treatment.
- Joe Gurina is a freelance journalist.