- Title: Mali hosts first Handifestival to raise awareness on disablity in the country.
- Date: 8th December 2016
- Summary: VARIOUS OF DISABLED PEOPLE DANCING AT HANDIFESTIVAL NIGHT CONCERT
- Embargoed: 23rd December 2016 12:07
- Keywords: Disability Handifest Handicap Stigma
- Location: BAMAKO, MALI
- City: BAMAKO, MALI
- Country: Mali
- Reuters ID: LVA0035C0WMZB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Mali's federation of disabled persons (FEMAPH) recently held the first ever festival of disabled people, dubbed Handifestival, which is aimed at raising awareness on the challenges of people living with disability.
The event was held in Mali's capital Bamako, where various artists living with disability entertained festival goers and also showcased their art and handicraft products.
According to a 2011 World Health Organisation (WHO) report on disability, there is an estimated 2 million Malians living with disability out of population of 17.3 million people.
Like in parts of the world, people with disability in Mali are often seen as a burden to society and their families, where poor conditions and lack of resources as well as infrastructure often makes it hard for those affected to get the assistance they need.
Those with physical or mental disability are often stigmatised by their families and the wider community, particularly if they are unable to provide for themselves.
It is hoped that the festival will help confront stigma and address the challenges and eventually change the way people with disability are viewed.
"The importance of the festival is so that people with disability can be discovered by the population. At the same time, they discover themselves and also explore similarities that they may share among themselves, meaning that they can live off their art," said one the festival's organisers, Barthelemi Sangara.
The three day festival also included seminars on the state of disabled people in Mali as well as various sports events including a tricycle race, football and karate among others.
Youssouf Maiga a cyclist, won the opening tricycle race.
"I am happy that I won the tricycle race. We don't make money with this activity, but what counts is the moral support that I get by being a member of our association. I want to appeal to all parents with disabled children; please don't hide your children at home. Let them join our association where they can exchange experiences and get moral support to live with their disability," Maga said.
Most disabled people in Mali are unemployed and earn significantly less whenever they have a job.
Due to constant dependency on family and social circles for food and money, disabled people often lack autonomy, suffer from segregation and are likely to have their rights disregarded, according to Handicap International.
There has been a greater call for policy reform at local and international levels to address challenges faced by disabled persons.
"As an organization of people with disability, we organized these events to commemorate this day and raise awareness among authorities, and the population in general on the problem of rights of people with disability."
said president of Mali's Sport federation for the disabled, Amadou Diarra.
Mali's economy which relies on agriculture and mining has been hard hit by conflict between government forces and Islamic separatists in the north of the country.
According to Handicap International, an American organization with relief operations in Mali, the number of people with disabilities could increase due to stray bullets, buried grenades and other unconventional weapons used in the conflict.
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