In the history of social development, the disabled were not regarded as integral part of society. However, in the contemporary world, paying due attention to the plight of disabled persons is noticeable. Even then, the disabled still face a number of barriers like job discrimination and being seen on as mere consumers who do not make any contribution in the process of production.
The Eritrean National War-Disabled Veteran Association (ENWVA) is making a lot of efforts to increase the society’s awareness and eradicate these negative perceptions from our society.
ENWVA is an independent and nongovernmental association founded on 17th October 19993 to ensure means of sustaining the future life of the war disabled veterans. The association and full backs of the government as well as full acceptance of the disabled fighters. The mission of the association was to rehabilitate and reintegrate the war disabled veterans in to society after being away for a long time, to make the war disabled veterans productive citizens and play a big role in the national reconstruction and development by educating and training them and to help them to participate in different activities and take their shares from the resources of the nation like any non-disabled citizen, as well as to support them in their efforts to be self-sufficient and stop dependency.
The association has operates by consensus management through open information exchange in order to plan and monitor the ongoing activities, and to raise issues and resolve problems.
Providing members with vocational skills is one of the fundamental steps taken before such members can be assisted to either start their own small enterprises or to form cooperative ventures. Vocational trainings like computer, art, tailoring, driving, pottery, plumbing, building constructions, business management and bookkeeping and bee keeping. So far, 4749 disabled veterans took different kinds of vocational training.
Enhancing job opportunities and job creation for members is another strategy of the association in which reintegration of the disabled fighters in to society involves, among other things, ensuring that jobs are made available to them. Income generating activities like bakery, grinding mill, metal and woodwork shop, fuel station, bee keeping, animal drawn cart, cargo tricycle, goal breeding, horticulture and animal husbandry are the main activities of the association. The association found out that microcredit is the best way to stabilize the disabled veterans. The micro finance supports ventures in agriculture, trade (micro business, vendors etc.), service (bike repair, shoe shine etc.) and tailoring. The association gave micro finance for 3616 disabled veterans which amounts to 26,170,000.00 nakfa from the year 2007 up to 2015.
The association focuses on financial management and controls by creating a financial system that will sustain it in to the future.
The association provides various services to the disabled veterans to help them around more easily. It gives them motor cycle, wheel chairs, and crutches. The association has provided about 290 motor cycles, 6 mini buses, thousands of wheel chairs, crutches, walking aids and hearing aids.It also gives different kinds of medical services, and 70% of the medical bills are covered by the association. If a patient has to go abroad for medication, 50% is covered by the association.
ENWVA has internal and external relations. It has a strong relationship with government, Haben Trust and its subsidiaries, international bilateral- and multi- lateral donors and NGOs as well as with the Eritrean public (especially Eritreans in the diaspora) and the private sector. The association has been active in organizing war disabled Eritreans who live abroad; and has succeeded to create branch associations in Sweden, Norway, Kuwait , Holland, Denmark, Germany , Italy, and the USA. The association holds meetings, seminars and workshops with these associations in order to ensure its projects success.
The association held a meeting at Ala- Gaden sub zone of Dekemhare on 1st august, which focused on exchanging experiences with the Diaspora associations. The meeting was attended by heads, representatives and members of the association from Oakland, North America, Stockholm and Yotobori of Sweden and Holland.
The associations played a big role in enhancing the projects of the ENWVA. In 2017, there was a donation of 320,000 Krona from Sweden, 11275 dollars from Oakland, 8800 dollars from Yotobori and 3000 dollars from Denmark.
In a speech he made at the seminar, Mr. Gebrebrhan Eyasu, chairman of the ENWVA, said that the aim of the program is to list the challenges and opportunities and increase the opportunities to exchange experiences among the different associations. He added that simplifying the life of the disabled veterans, improving their wellbeing as well as providing work opportunities in order to ensure their economic stability are the ultimate goals of the association.
Mr. Gebrebrhan appreciated the hard work of the associations while he recommended that the associations should increase their efforts in accomplishing its ultimate goals. Likewise, the participants said that the cooperation between the citizens who live inside and outside the country is one of the vital mechanisms for collecting the money to help the disabled veterans. They added that working together is the identity of Eritrean which should be respected and maintained as a valuable culture of the people.
The association intends to develop strong institutional capacity and make the association economically self-sufficient to enable disabled war veterans lead decent family life like any non-disabled persons, to create strong relationship with all interested parties and individuals with disability and to develop the potential capacity of disabled war veterans to their highest level by changing helping them be productive citizens through training and education.