By Musa Bah
As the fight against COVID-19 intensifies and health authorities advise people to observe Social Distancing and the Stay at Home campaign increases, there is a section of Gambian society who seem to have been forgotten. Not that no one is seeking to help them at all, but the available help does not commensurate with their needs.
The Gambia Paralympic Committee whose members are over fifty, are in dire need of assistance. The advice for people to stay at home and avoid mingling in crowds poses extraordinary challenges to this group of Gambians. This association of Gambians is not taking their survival for granted, nor do they wish to depend on charity entirely.
It is for this reason that many of them have learnt and mastered some skills and are using those skills to earn a living. Some of them have workshops on various skills and are serving their communities while earning their survival from it. This means that they do not want to, nor do they depend on, handouts completely.
However, the instruction to stay at home and the current State of Emergency introduced by the government of the Gambia to fight against the dreaded corona virus has taken away their ability to go out and seek for their livelihoods. Some of their members who work in workshops or those few of them who go to different gathering points to beg for a livelihood are no longer able to do that.
For this reason therefore, both Government and Civil Society Organizations should remember them and render any assistance that they can. For government, it is a responsibility to see that all the people in the country are catered for in accordance with the available means.
Many organisations and philanthropists have been busy distributing food items since the start of this fight against COVID19 but hardly have we heard of one focusing on this group. It is imperative that we, as a nation, remember them also and ensure that they are not left behind.
A leading member of this group has told me that many of their members currently lack food and other basic needs. This is not asking for charity, but a demand for their fair share of the national cake. Remember that citizenship is equally shared and therefore whatever one or group is enjoying, the rest have equal right to share it as well. For the short-term therefore, when many in the country are being helped to survive, these good citizens should also be considered.
It goes to our humanity to make sure that no group of citizens is marginalised particularly at a time of difficulty like the one we face currently. I therefore call on the Government of the Gambia to remember these people and formulate a way of including them in whatever assistance is being rendered. They are entitled to it. Similarly, I call on all philanthropists to reach out and assist these folks as part of our moral responsibility.
In the long term, it is imperative that from henceforth Government prioritize the giving of skills and jobs to these members of society so that they can survive on their own. This is what they want and deserve, they do not want charity or pity, they want equal opportunity. That iswhat they, and all of us, should demand for them.
The national cake is for all!