Honour From Beijing to ANWAB: Nigerian NGO Bags International Award for Service to Persons with Disabilities

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Sunday 21st May 2023 was a specially fulfilling day for Anglo-Nigerian Welfare Association for the Blind, ANWAB and 99 other Non-Governmental Organisations from 56 other countries as they received special awards in Beijing, China for their contributions to providing succour for persons with disabilities around the world.

The awards were presented to ANWAB and other NGOs and individuals during the final event to mark the Centennial Celebration of Rehabilitation International and it was tagged “RI Centennial Award for Significant Contributions. ”
Each awardee received a cash prize, a medal and a certificate.

According to the Jury Committee, the award is to commend individuals or organizations that have made outstanding contributions to or had a profound impact on the equal participation and inclusive development of persons with disabilities.

The recipients were those who have done not less than five years of recognized work in disability-related fields and organizations are those legally registered and have high credibility.

100 awardees were selected from 57 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, South and North America, including 14 African countries, and ANWAB is the only Nigerian recipient of the prize, which marks 100 years of the existence of New York-based Rehabilitation International.

The announcement of the award to us at ANWAB came as a pleasant surprise in a regular email on Friday 5th May 2023.

“Dear Anglo-Nigerian Welfare Association for the Blind,
Greetings from Rehabilitation International! We are pleased to inform you that upon the decision by the Jury Committee of RI Centennial Award for Significant Contributions, you will be receiving receiving RI Centennial Award for Significant Contributions together with another 99 winners.

“You are thus cordially invited to attend the Awarding Ceremony at your own expense on May 21 in Beijing during the Rehabilitation International Centennial Celebration Events.

“We would like to extend the most sincere congratulations and look forward to your continuous contributions to persons with disabilities around the world. Your earliest response upon receipt will be highly appreciated.

“With best regards, RI Award Secretariat.”

Anglo-Nigerian Welfare Association for the Blind, ANWAB, is a non-profit, non-governmental charitable organisation, whose main aim is to create an enabling environment that foster independence of blind people through education and welfare. Serious attention is paid to the interests of all blind people, particularly blind women. ANWAB Centre for the Blind is located at 275 Herbert Macaulay Way, Alagomeji, Yaba, Lagos.

Through the transcription of textbooks into Braille, ANWAB has enabled many more blind students to go to school and also become gainfully employed.

Other services provided for the blind by the Centre include:

1. Computer Training
2. Internet Café service for the blind using a screen reader
3. Full-service Braille library service
4. Braille, Mobility and Typing lessons
5. Guidance and counseling to the blind, their parents, government and the general public.

An important aspect of ANWAB’s work is outreach, i.e., reaching out to blind students all over the country to find out their book needs and other sources of support by ANWAB as a facilitator.

ANWAB was founded in 1994 in order to help alleviate the many obstacles facing blind persons in Nigeria.

It was first registered as a charity in the United Kingdom in December 1994 and with the Corporate Affairs Commission in Nigeria a couple of years later, with one important objective being the provision of reading materials in Braille or audiotape, and training in Independent Living for blind persons.

Late John Bush was the first Chairman of ANWAB UK and he spent his time and energy leading a team of other reliable volunteers that helped to raise funds for the work in aid of blind persons in Nigeria, for which in December 2005, he was conferred with Nigeria’s National Honour of Member of the Federal Republic, MFR.

ANWAB has a Management Board which helps to raise funds and supervise the day-to-day operations of the organisation, including its sponsored projects.

The current Chairman of ANWAB’s Board is Ms Barbara Wey, and she took over from Mr. Ogie Eboigbe in 2018 and there are several other board members, trustees and patrons who offer selfless service and assistance, to ensure the smooth running of the centre. Mrs. Jean Obi, MBE, MFR, was the first Chairman of ANWAB Nigeria from 1996.

The Executive Director of the Centre is Mr. Danlami Basharu, a visually impaired Nigerian lawyer with wide experience in disability issues and a former member the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

By the Award to ANWAB and others, RI says it aims to facilitate the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and promote rights protection and inclusive development of persons with disabilities around the globe.

Founded in 1922, Rehabilitation International, RI, is a worldwide non-profit organization comprised of people with disabilities, service providers, government agencies, academics, researchers, and advocates working to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities.

With member organizations in more than 100 countries and in all regions of the world and enjoying special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations since 1978, RI also provides a forum for the exchange of experience and information on research and practice, in its quest to advance the rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities across the world.

Rehabilitation International grew from its small town roots in the American Midwest in 1922 to an internationally prominent organization in just a few years, championed by Bell Greve, a social worker who pioneered the provision of relief and rehabilitation services to the disabled after World War I, and Dr. Henry Kessler, an orthopaedic surgeon who established the Kessler Institute in 1949 to develop a comprehensive plan of rehabilitative medicine.

Since then, the RI Secretariat in New York has offered expertise and solutions aimed at giving people with disabilities the chance to lead full and productive lives.

The organization has never been large. Rather, the majority of work is carried out by RI’s member organizations, with the Secretariat as its advocate at the United Nations and other global councils.

Along the way, there have been four major name changes: The International Society for Crippled Children, 1922; The International Society for the Welfare of Cripples, 1939; The International Society for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled, 1960; and Rehabilitation International, 1972.

These name changes reflect changing social awareness towards disability. At present, the organization prefers to go by the abbreviation of its 1972 name, RI Global.

A major highlight of the RI Centennial Celebration in the Chinese capital was the release of a landmark declaration which has been tagged the ‘Beijing Declaration on the Rights of the Disabled’.

The event also featured a message from Chinese President Xi Jinping.


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