Stepping towards even ground

This week, ACT Project Manager Georg attended a meeting with Viva Karama President Wassila Souissi and two other associations at a local town hall to discuss progress on the stalled accessibility project for Sfax’s main hospital for people with disabilities.

“There is a long-standing relationship between Viva Karama and ACT,” says Georg. “Our plan in Sfax had been a pre-project about a year and a half year ago, to help build their capacity.”

Viva Karama joined a committee made up of several associations working with people with disabilities in order to help improve accessibility to the Habib Bourgiba hospital in Sfax.

However, that project stalled, mostly due to the collapse of the committee. With a lot of participants leaving for various reasons, the project came more or less to a standstill.

Thankfully, there’s been a reignited interested in seeing this transformation take place.

This week, Viva Karama and two other associations were invited to Menzel Chekir town hall to present the accessibility project that ACT had been involved in the planning stages of to city officials.

Despite the complications with the committee, the city officials have taken responsibility for the road and pavement outside the hospital, as is their jurisdiction.

The town hall will (hopefully over the summer) fix the road and broken pavement to enable easier access to much needed medical facilities for people with disabilities.

There is a wheelchair ramp going into the hospital. But it’s always blocked by motorbikes and cars. The town hall has committed to putting up signs and helping to regulate and monitor the area to ensure that no-one blocks it.

Inside the hospital – the accessibility of elevators, the need for braille, etc – is their own responsibility.  With the financial situation of the hospital being what it is, there are currently very limited funds available for improvements.

ACT is hopeful that, working in partnership with Viva Karama, it will be possible to help search for funding to help support them in the next phase of this development.

“The meeting was about getting people together to present to the city, who are now on board with being able to contribute where they have responsibilities,” says Georg.

“This meeting was brought about thanks to newly appointed officials. They were all very sympathetic [to the cause]. They were all very nice, helpful and very respectful.”

For Georg, the meeting can be deemed a success. “I think that the other participants were quite pleased as well.”

Thank you for inviting ACT to attend. It was a great opportunity to build connections in Sfax and support the work and efforts of our long-standing partner, Viva Karama.

So what happens next?

ACT has been invited to attend an exposition being held in central Sfax. All associations in Sfax are invited to present their associations which work with people with disabilities.

This will be a fantastic chance for all associations with links to disability work to come and share. It will take place on 9th April, a public holiday here in Tunisia.

ACT is hopeful this will be an opportunity to get to know more associations in Sfax. ACT recognises the importance of building relationships with other organisations and city officials who share in a vision of transformation for the city of Sfax.