Living with a disability often involves coping with psychological barriers stemming from self-doubt and fear of judgment. By traveling, individuals can confront these barriers, experiencing a sense of liberation as they realize their disability does not define their potential.
Manique Gunaratne created the opportunity for a group of persons with disabilities to visit the Raja Sabha Mandapaya in Polonnaruwa in June 2023.
Built by King Parakramabahu this structure is situated in front of the #palace. Built on 3 layers of solid rock, the border of the first layer is decorated with carved elephants each in a different posture. Second layer border is carved with figures of lions and the last layer with images of “wamana”.
The entrance to the building is through two beautifully carved lions. The roof has been supported by 48 beautifully carved stone pillars laid in 4 rows. To the south-east of the court there can see the remains of an ancient toilet.
MANIQUE GUNARATNE Manager – Specialised Training and Disability Resource Centre of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is working to promote meaningful and sustainable inclusion of persons with disabilities across all its programmes and operations and to effectively and systematically include persons with disabilities, especially #women and young persons with disabilities in development, humanitarian, sustaining peace and peacebuilding settings.
As such, to initiate a dialogue to identify and strengthen advocacy, accountability, inclusion mechanisms and to identify key areas of interventions and potential partnerships UNFPA organized a stakeholder consultation with persons with disabilities and those who work with persons with disabilities in May 2023 at the UN Conference Hall.
Manique Gunaratne contributed on how to include women with disabilities and key priority areas.
The Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka is the implementing partner of the project called Sexual and Reproductive Health Programme IN humaniTarian settings (SPRINT). SPRINT was designed to address gaps in the implementation of the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for #Reproductive Health, which is a set of priority activities to be implemented at the onset of an emergency. As one of the most vulnerable groups affected in emergencies, SPRINT prioritizes persons with #disabilities in decision making and providing access to community-specific, life-saving SRH needs. Therefore, under SPRINT IV, FPASL organized a training on MISP targeting persons with disabilities.
Manique Gunaratne together with the trainees of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, Specialised Training & Disability Resource Centre contributed in this endeavor. In order to make this training programme a success, all persons with diverse disabilities which included vision impaired persons, #hearing impaired persons, persons with physical disabilities and parents of persons with intellectual disabilities were selected.
The objective of the training was to sensitize persons with disabilities on the implementation of the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for Sexual and Reproductive Health in Emergencies. The nominated participants were able to share the learned information with their larger community. They are also active participants representing the persons with disabilities in decision making and implementing services specific to fulfilling SRH needs of their respective communities.
The training was held at Granbell Hotel, in March 2023. All training materials were prepared in accessible formats such as Braille, large print, audio (DAISY), accessible formats and in sign language by The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, Specialised Training & Disability Resource Centre.
MANIQUE GUNARATNE The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, 385 J3 Old Kotte Road, Rajagiriya, Sri Lanka.
‘Preserving, Managing and Thriving Your Ability’ – Corporate Training Program for Silvans Integrated Facilities Services, Australia webinar was held in February 2023 to sensitise on inclusive employment. Manique Gunaratne conducted the session on “Employment for Persons with Disabilities”
MANIQUE GUNARATNE CISCO International Trainer for I T E (Information Technology Essentials) and CCNA (Cisco Computer Network Associates)
The social value of sustainable urbanization offers pathways to enhancing social inclusion, reducing inequality, and ending poverty; thereby, leaving no one and no place behind. To reap the full benefit of growth, the ongoing urbanization in Sri Lanka needs steering and guidance to ensure no one is left behind. Therefore, mainstreaming Leaving No One Behind (LNOB) in national urban policies and programmes caters to the needs of the vulnerable and marginalised, including persons with disability. In addition, LNOB is the central, transformative promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
For this, the urban policies, planning and development projects must be designed to cater to the needs of the vulnerable and marginalised, including persons with disabilities. To understand the needs of marginalised groups, sensitisation, and strengthening capacities of relevant entities in data and assessment mechanisms are essential. Through the LNOB Project, the inclusion of persons with disabilities and other marginalised groups will be strengthened in fundamental sectors of urban development, under SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities for integrated urban development and SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation, which gives impetus to an important sectoral challenge in South Asia countries.
The LNOB Project draws on the collective expertise of UN-Habitat to use the convening power for addressing the complex, cross-sectoral challenges facing urban policymakers aiming to mainstream inclusive, safe concepts into urban policy and planning frameworks by engaging national, sub-national and local governments.
As part of the above-mentioned initiative, the regional advisor (LNOB) of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme Mr Parul Sharma visited Sri Lanka to discuss the issues pertaining to disability inclusiveness and urban development in Sri Lanka, the progress made under the LNOB project and to share other international best-practices from the region regarding #disability-inclusive urban development including e-learning modules developed with UNRC India, pilot training sessions on promoting accessibility completed in schools in Delhi and with the Public Work Department, GNCTD and discuss ways forward for developing/ customizing the knowledge products for taking up similar initiatives in Sri Lanka. Manique Gunaratne also joined the discussion which was held at Hotel Janaki in February 2023.
MANIQUE GUNARATNE Vice Chair Person – South Asian Disability Forum
It is the time of the year when many look for calendars for the newly dawned year, either for personal use or as a gift. Visually impaired and low-vision people can now find a readable calendar of their own. The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Specialised Training & Disability Resource Centre offers free pocket Braille and large print calendars every year.
“It is very important for vision impaired
persons to expand their Braille-reading skills. The only method to evaluate the
literacy rate of vision impaired persons is Braille. “Literacy is so important. There are talking
devices, but there is nothing quite like the written word. It is so important
for blind children and adults to learn to read, just as it is important for
sighted people to read. EFC Braille calendars are an absolute must for any
blind adult or child on the go. They are fast, easy to use, efficient and a
real necessity today.
The EFC Specialised Training &
Disability Resource Centre for Persons with Disabilities removes barriers,
creates solutions and expands possibilities, so that the visually-impaired can
achieve their full potential.
The Braille calendars are distributed free among EFC trainees and other vision impaired persons in all corners of the country.