Samoans with Disabilities Advocate for a Strengthened National Disability Benefit Scheme
Click here for instructions on how to watch the video on Able Player.
Since the inauguration of a new government in 2021, Samoans with disabilities have been eligible for a 100 Tala ($37 USD) monthly assistance payment. However, the program has yet to be written into law and currently depends on the continued support of government officials. Advocates with NOLA, the Samoan National Advocacy Organisation of Persons with Disabilities, had been pushing for a social assistance program for years and are now recommending an increase in the monthly payments and rolling in provisions for free transportation and medical services. They are also advocating for the scheme to be officially codified in Samoan law, says Setu Tiatia, a member of NOLA: “It is very important to have some form of legislation that will guide the implementation of the benefit scheme, which will act as a safeguard in case of any challenges that may arise in the future.”
Editing assistance by Desmond LaFave
Ari Tommy Hazelman is a blind 34-year-old Samoan man posted as the disability inclusive officer for the Samoa Blind Persons Association, (SBPA), the only association in Samoa that deals with issues affecting blind and visually impaired people. Hazelman works with the SBPA’s Braille unit and is involved in the organization’s advocacy work through various activities under a project funded by the Disability Rights Fund.
Passionate about disability rights and accessible information, Hazelman is a member of Samoa’s CRPD resource team, Samoa’s disability reference team on disaster risk reduction, and Nuanua O Le Alofa, a nationally recognized disability rights advocacy organization.
Hazelman loves to meet and network with new people and speaks six languages including Samoan, English, Fijian, Hindi, Japanese and German. He has represented Samoa at international events like the Harkin Summit on employment of persons with disabilities and attended the Duskin Leadership Training Programme in Japan for people with disabilities for the Asia Pacific region in 2019-20.
About this video: The first disability benefit scheme in Samoan history offers monthly payments to residents with disabilities. DJP Fellow Ari Hazelman interviews Samoan advocates pushing for the strengthening of this essential program.
About this video: Kiribati native Ruby Nabetari has witnessed first-hand the severe and rapid impacts of global warming. She hopes that through theater, she can speak volumes to policymakers deciding the fates of climate-vulnerable nations.
About this video: The Samoa Blind Persons Association recently produced the first Braille translation of the Samoan government's disaster risk management booklet. DJP Fellow Ari Hazelman was a key advocate in this enormous step forward.
About this video: Of the nearly 400 DeafBlind people living in Malawi, 250 are school-aged children. DJP Fellow Duster Lucius interviews Chrissy Mutumba, the first DeafBlind student accepted to a prestigious high school in Blantyre.
About this video: As the effects of climate change intensify, severe flooding will become increasingly common in Samoa, disproportionately impacting persons with disabilities. Activists say accessibility must be central to emergency response plans.
About this video: Women with disabilities in the Solomon Islands face barriers to employment. When Diana Ma’ahoro experienced these firsthand, she enrolled in a national leadership program. Now she's a renowned disability rights activist in the Pacific.