In April seven students with disabilities were recruited to our three-month Basic ICT course. The training is designed for people with no previous experience with computers, and teaching essential computer skills required for the workplace, including keyboard and mouse skills, Microsoft Office packages (Word, Excel, etc).
Many of our students will face significant challenges attending our training. In order to ensure they obtain the most benefit, we also provide a contribution towards living and transport costs, for the duration of the course.
In total, DST has trained up to 80 students since we commenced operations in 2010 in Sierra Leone. Around 75% of our beneficiaries have gone on to acquire good jobs, supporting themselves and their families and contributing to national development through the payment of government taxes.
|Photo from Basic ICT training being delivered, 10 May 2018||8 July 2018 – students who completed the Basic ICT training, with Dr Abs Dumbuya, CEO of the Dorothy Springer Trust||Training is delivered at our Pultney Street offices, in the centre of Freetown|
It’s good to follow the progress of our trainees. With support from British High Commission, in 2015 DST delivered pioneering IT training for women with disabilities, to empower them in their lives ahead. Our aim was to give them opportunities in employment and further education. We are delighted to report that out of seven women trained in 2015, by the end of 2018 six are working, and the seventh is now in her final year at University.
DST has been distributing computers, laptops and furniture donated to DST by its friends and supporters in the UK. Donations have gone to National Commission for Blind, Sierra Leone Union on Disability Issues, Media Watch, Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Democracy, Freetown Cheshire Home, and Journalist Sarah of Star Radio/TV, amongst others.
Thank you to the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), Easthampstead Baptist Church, Schools in Bracknell, Individuals and friends of DST.
I was born in August 17th, 1990 in the Provinces, the East of Sierra Leone, Kenema and contracted Polio at the age of 6 month. I lost my mum when I was only 13 years. I grew up with my dad and other family members taking care of me. Through sheer determination, I was able to go to primary and secondary schooling in Kenema and later moved to Freetown after taking my West African Senior School Certificate Examination, to look for better opportunities in the city.
When I arrived in Freetown, I faced a lot of challenges before my encounter with the Dorothy Springer Trust. Let me use this opportunity to highlights some of these constrains that I was going through before entry at DST; namely:
• It was difficult for me to acquire my basic needs e.g. food, shelter, clothing.
• It was also difficult for me to get a job, although I was a graduate from a recognised University in Sierra Leone.
• Dealing with negative perceptions including family members. Some family members did not recognise me or would use disparaging remarks. For example, in Africa, especially in Sierra Leone the moment you don’t have money or a job, all sorts of words or labels are used to refer to you as lazy, useless, and so on”.
In October 2016, I enrolled at the Dorothy Springer Trust Intermediate Level ICT Training. We completed rigorous training comprising of Computer Systems, Software Applications, Employability Skills, Entrepreneurship, etc. I graduated with Certification in ICT in April 2017. Through the Employment Bureau, I was able to get a job as an Accountant at Family Kingdom Limited, Aberdeen Freetown and after six months I was able to become a permanent staff member. It is almost getting to a year now, and my life has been transformed in so many ways:
• A man who was not able to get his basic needs is now a father of a baby girl two months old, what this means is that this man can now even take care of others with the help of DST training and Dr Abdulai Dumbuya .
• With the help of DST training and Dr Abdulai Dumbuya, I am now trying to be enrolled for the 2018/2019 academic year for my Master’s course at the Institute of Public Administration and Management, University of Sierra Leone (USL) by the grace of God.
• With the help of DST training and Dr Abdulai Dumbuya ,a man whose family members didn’t even recognise is now getting calls from them for support; some are even apologising for their wrong behaviour.
• With the help of DST and Dr Abdulai Dumbuya, a man who was very slim has now put on weight; although trying to control this so I don’t get as big as Abs!
• There are still some challenges but a very big praise to Dorothy Springer Trust (DST), Dr Abdulai Dumbuya and all other key players of DST for such a wonderful role they have played in transforming my life. Thanks to you all once more God bless you more for your support.”
DST is working with the Government of Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs in writing the country’s first report on the status of implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). DST and partners are leading on education and employment chapters.
We have also influenced the inclusion of disabilities issues in the country’s National Development Plan - Poverty Reduction Plan. We are calling for disability issues to feature prominently in the country’s eight priority areas.
DST advocacy for people with disabilities has led the new Minister of Higher and Technical Education to send out a memorandum to all educational institutions to honour the Sierra Leone 2011 Disability Act, by providing free education to persons with disabilities.
DST hosted a range of disabled groups who took part in the Freetown “Global People’s Summit” live webinar. The summit had participation from 174 countries, including Global People's Hubs in 44 countries and 26 remote interviews. Participants were invited to reimagine a world without silos, barriers and obstacles to achieving a more sustainable and equal future.
The focus was the Transformative Power of the Free and Quality Education for Persons with Disabilities. Technology provides just such a platform; DST provides this through training in ICT and creating jobs for people with disabilities.
Further details on the Summit can be found here: https://www.globalpeoplesummit.org/2018-summit
During 2017, Dr. Abdulai (Abs) Dumuya, CEO of DST in Sierra Leone commenced a campaign to stand as a Member of the Sierra Leone Parliament. However, in January 2018, Abs took the difficult decision to stand down from the race.
Abs has joined forces with Media Watch Sierra Leone to advocate for aspiring disabled members of Parliament to be given the same opportunity by their respective parties as their non-disabled counterparts.
Disabled people face discrimination in Sierra Leone and are rarely nominated by members of political parties to stand for election to Parliament. In June Abs spoke at a press conference to highlight the issue and launch the Network of Journalists on Disability issues.
It was reported on here https://sierraexpressmedia.com/?p=84668 (please note the inaccurate reporting of the name, Dr. Alhaji Dumbuya is in fact Dr Abdulai (Abs) Dumbuya).