Inviting friends and spending an evening dining out with them has been one of the most “honest” and gratifying ways of communion by organizations and individuals these days.
But imagine a situation where a physical disability could prevent you from seeing what was in front of you or a scenario where you did not have proper control of your hands and feet to make your way around the table served before you. Or what if you couldn’t hear the waiter tell the guests about what was in the menu or the kind of drinks available?
It is within backdrop that Sisterspeak237, a not for profit organization with a mission to strengthen leadership, power and amplify voices of women and minority groups in Cameroon hosted a fun multi-course dinner to illustrate what it is like to live with a disability.
“With each course, they lost a sense and for the “entrée” (starter) they were blindfolded and experienced what it is like to be blind for 45 minutes and after that we had conversations with them about how they felt, their challenges and then we had a blind person talk to them about what they face in life and what everybody can do to help them” explained Comfort Mussa, Founder of Sisterspeak237.
She added that “having a guest experience what it is like to live with a disability breaded empathy and we are confident that this empathy will translate into intentional actions towards inclusion”.
The dinner Comfort noted was organized as part of Sisterspeak237’s activities in their gender and disability COVID-19 project executed in partnership with the Canadian Fund for local initiatives.
The conversations at table challenged stereotypes as the guests learnt more about inclusion and the role they can all play to have more inclusion in society.
“I was blindfolded, led into the hall through obstacles on the floor, asked to find a seat and engage in a discussion with another blindfolded person. Having my eyes covered with an eye shield for about 40 minutes was like the world was coming to an end”, noted Doh Betrand one of the attendees.
“My right hand was also temporarily incapacitated while I struggled to eat. This actually made me feel what persons in such conditions go through. The exercise has left me seriously reflecting. In my thoughts, I realised I haven’t really been thankful enough to God for all my abilities” he added.
This was corroborated by Mkong Immaculate who observed that the dinner was an inspiring and self-reexamining experience.
“Having my eyes and right hand debilitated for less than 30 minutes felt really terrible. When I imagine that these are the daily realities of some people, I felt an urgent need to go beyond pitying and showing compassion, to advocating for inclusiveness for persons living with disabilities in all spheres of life”.
“It is our wish that public and private institutions read it, and apply the recommendations not only in COVID 19 response Plans but in all other projects” a statement on the Sisterspeak237 facebook page reads.
“We are reimagining the future of access and inclusion for persons with disabilities and women in Cameroon. Inclusion is essential to achieving a peaceful world and everyone has a role to play in this” the stamen adds.
This guide will be distributed for free in areas where we executed our Gender & Disability Inclusive COVID Response projects.