The founder of Koforidua-based Reigning Power Gospel Church International has called on Disability rights advocacy organisations in the country to make conscious effort to educate Christian leaders on disability rights and inclusion.
According to Apostle Frederick Obiri, inviting Christian leaders to training workshops, seminars and community sensitization programmes would contribute greatly to the public education campaigns of the organisations.
Apostle Obiri made the call in an interview with DisabilityNewsGH on the sidelines of a film screening event by Ghana Somubi Dwumadie on their COVID-19 Psychosocial Resilience Grants held in Accra recently.
Ghana Somubi Dwumadie, a consortium of disability rights advocacy organisations, screened six short films on the activities of some organisations they gave grants to provide psychosocial support for people with disabilities, including people with mental health conditions during the pandemic, as well as to healthcare workers.
The films catalogue the impact stories of six of their grantees who were successful in accessing the COVID-19 Psychosocial and Resilience Grants Call, funded with UK Aid from the UK government.
A member of a panel that discussed the issues captured in the films, called on people in leadership, including religious leaders to use their platforms to educate the public about disability matters.
Dr. Augustina Naami who is a researcher and senior lecturer at the University of Ghana, Department of Social Work, was of the view that if leaders would use a minute or two of every public speaking opportunity to talk about disability, it would go a long way to change society’s negative perceptions about disability.
Apostle Frederick Obiri, while agreeing to Dr. Naami’s suggestion, spoke passionately about the need for education for Christian leaders, since they could not teach what they did not know.
He opined that most Pastors were ignorant about disability matters and if they would be educated, they would transfer such education to their followers, which would eventually lead to achieving the disability inclusive society that the disability rights advocacy organisations had been fighting for.
Disability rights advocates have identified religion as one of the major sources of age-long misconceptions about disability.
There are also many stories of persons with disabilities (PWDs) suffering discrimination and stigmatization at church, while majority of church buildings in the country and church services are not accessible to PWDs.
Such situations have led to some persons with disabilities quitting church. Apostle Obiri believes that the solution lies in educating Christian leaders on disability matters.