Addis Ababa (Agenzia Fides) - According to the latest World Report on Disability, carried out by the World Bank and WHO, in Ethiopia there are 15 million children, adults and elders with disabilities, 17.6 % of the population.
Everywhere, in the streets of Addis Ababa, one meets people with some physical deformity, who wander in traffic begging or spending their days sitting by the roadside, wrapped up in cloaks to protect themselves against the cold. They are mainly seen in front of church doors or other public buildings.
The Spanish NGO Manos Unidas, through the program "Así Actuamos", has recently intervened in Mekenisa, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Addis Ababa, where the Association SALU (Self Help Blind and Handicapped Association) is committed to breaking down the barriers that marginalize and isolate the disabled population.
About 15 thousand people live in the district of Mekenisa, many come to town to escape the poverty that, in large part, is due to disabilities such as blindness and other eye diseases, because of lack of hygiene and malnutrition, polio, accidents at work. To limit this serious emergency, in 1996 Wondimu Asfaw, who is blind, founded, along with other disabled people, SALU that offers social support and training to hundreds of disabled people in Addis Ababa with the aim of integrating them into society. In the center run by the association, courses to manufacture brooms and brushes, articles made of wood, metal, wicker are held. Many of those who make use of this support can then open their own shop and are able to support their families. Others find paid work in some firm or factory. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 27/05/2014)