The 3rd and 4th of February, 2014 will go down in the history of the African continent. On those dates, ten (10) Down syndrome Associations from ten (10) different countries met in Bedfordview, Johannesburg, South Africa at the national office of Down Syndrome South Africa. The meeting saw the official launch of the African Down Syndrome Network and the election of the first new office bearers.
The African Down Syndrome Network is a fully fledged working network consisting of legally and fully registered national organizations for people with Down syndrome on the African continent. The network came about as a result of the need to form a formal structure in Africa on Down syndrome in order to:
Alleviate challenges faced by various Down Syndrome Associations in Africa
Have one big strong voice when advocating
Strengthen Down Syndrome Associations resource base
Share knowledge and expertise on advocacy and information on Down syndrome
This is very cardinal especially that the incidence of Down syndrome in Africa is considered higher than in developed countries.
The network’s mission is to promote and protect the rights of all persons with Down syndrome and their families in Africa. The network is dully affiliated to the African decade of persons with disabilities and to Down Syndrome International. The network will frame out work with the African Union, various governments, use various treaties and documents to make sure the rights of people with Down syndrome are met. This will be achieved through Advocacy and lobbying governments to fulfill the rights of people with Down syndrome.
The network’s key areas of action will include the following:
To ensure all persons with Down syndrome have equal rights in all African countries.
To remove barriers to living and encourage full integration.
To change societal perception of Down syndrome in Africa.
To positively influence continental policies and legislation for people with Down syndrome in Africa.
To develop and implement good governance in Africa
To represent African Down Syndrome Network continentally and internationally.
The network has the following roles: Advocacy, Lobbying, Enhancing awareness, sensitization and understanding Down syndrome, create networking with relevant national and international organizations to improve the lives of people with Down syndrome
The network shall be open to any legally registered and operational national organizations in Africa for people with Down syndrome ·
The following were the Founding members:
Tanzania (main land)
The following were the first duly elected office bearers:
TITLE NAME COUNTRY
Chairperson Ms Bibi Ferozia Hosaneea Mauritius
Vice Chairperson Ms Binta Nomsa Tobedza Botswana
Secretary Mr Kifita Humphrey Kimbonyi Zambia
Vice Secretary Ms Rose Ekaete Mordi Nigeria
Treasurer Ms Sibonisiwe Mazula Zimbabwe
Vice Treasurer Mr Michael Okiro Emadit Uganda
All elected officers and some of the founding members are parents/guardians to children with Down syndrome and have a vision to create a strong parents empowerment movement for Africa·
It was really a monumental step indeed in the right direction for Down syndrome on the African continent, for all people with Down syndrome, their families and indeed their future. Bravo to all the founding members. It was really a huge call to action.
KIFITA HUMPHREY KIMBONYI