The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was held last week.
The International Day of Disabled Persons is used to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
June Wendy Rarihai was among those that marked this important day. At 34 years of age and having been part of the event for many years, she says this year’s theme is quite different.
The theme: “Building Back Better towards a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World” is important for people like her.
“It is good to participate in the celebration and I was happy to participate in the organizing team and even help out to make this day a successful one.
“But leaders and people in the business sector can work hand in hand to help people with disability who are most affected by the Covid-19 threat,” June said.
With limited opportunities June said that she was a cleaner for many years but was one of the first to be laid off when the economic slowdown caused by Covid-19 impacted the company she was working for.
June said she has tried applying for jobs but has not been successful. She says that when she caught up with her friends, she found out that that they are also facing the same situation - limited job prospects and many are often left to fend for themselves.
June is a high achiever; she won the 100m Gold medal at the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi. She made history for the country, something she is proud off.
But she says even such achievements are not officially recognised, and she said it was the saddest day of her life when she returned home and realized she will always be a person with disability.
“Only thing we had was a group photo in the Solomon Star, and some people congratulated me, and said they saw me in the newspaper. I will never forget how proud I was when people call my name,” June said.
For her that’s what keeps her going, every morning she would look at the Gold medal, and remind herself that anything is possible through hard work and prayers.
In marking the International Day of Disabled Persons the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, says: “As the world recovers from the pandemic, we must ensure that the aspirations and rights of persons with disabilities are included and accounted for in an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 world. This vision will only be achieved through active consultation with persons with disabilities and their representative organizations.”