Above: Gerard Oriol
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Nearly 10 percent of Haiti’s population is disabled, in large part due to the earthquake of January 2010. But Haiti is working to improve the treatment of the disabled in the country.
“Our country needs to take off, [it needs] the contribution of all of its daughters and sons,” Haiti President Martelly said Monday. “We have no right to lose out on any atom of intelligence, any bit of potential.”
Martelly was speaking Monday at a meeting to develop a legal framework for people with disabilities in the country, joined by members of Haiti’s business sector.
The meeting, which was held under the theme “access for disabled persons to suitable employment and work,” was held at the Hotel Montana.
It was an opportunity for Gerald Oriol, Haiti’s secretary of state for the integration of persons with disabilities, to make the case for the presence of the disabled in Haiti’s business sector.
Oriol is the founder of Fondation J’Aime Haiti (“I Love Haiti” Foundation”), a nonprofit working on behalf of the disabled in Haiti. (His work in Haiti, and the situation for the country’s handicapped, were the subject of a profile in Caribbean Journal by James English last year)
“Accessibility is certainly a major barrier, and the physical environment [in Haiti] is difficult for people with limited mobility,” Oriol told CJ at the time.
For Haiti to become more open in this regard, Martelly said an extra effort must be made to support the disabled population — and to create the necessary framework to curb disability-based discrimination.
“I look at this as a step towards the emergence of a civic consciousness that reflects the lives of the entire population,” Martelly said.