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People with disabilities to benefit from wheelchair access at Venn’s Town   |22 April 2022

People with disabilities to benefit from wheelchair access at Venn’s Town   

MNA Zialor and Serena Estro cutting the ribbon to officially open the wheelchair access and enjoying the spectacular view (Photos: Jona Meme)

People with disabilities and who move around in a wheelchair,can from now on visit Venn’s Town, at Mission Lodge following the opening yesterday of a new wheelchair access to the heritage site.

National Assembly member Honorable Naddy Zialor who uses crutches to walk and Serena Estro who is confined to a wheelchair officially unveiled the access way and they became the first persons with a disability to use the facility.

Serena was also accompanied by both her parents who as a family enjoyed the trail and spectacular view for the first time.

Simone Julie, Serena’s mother, welcomes the initiative to have such a facility for people with disabilities.

“There should be more such access in other places to ease the movement of people who are confined to wheelchairs as they have had many challenges in terms of access,” she said.

She recounted how a few days earlier her daughter had a specialist appointment at the Yellow Roof building at the Seychelles Hospital, Mont Fleuri and they encountered a very difficult situation as the area where PCR tests are conducted has a very unevenly cobbled together board walkway and as some of the boards were broken in parts the wheelchair could not enter. She added that her husband and two security officers had to lift the wheelchair to access the main building. She emphasised that this is why it is important for other places to provide access to people who are disabled so they too can have equal access to the services they need. Both Serena and her mother expressed their joy at being able to enjoy the popular heritage site.

The unveiling of the access was in the presence of the Ambassador of Malta, Francesca Alexandra Azaïs, members of the National Assembly Regina Esparon (Glacis) and Egbert Aglae (Port Glaud), principal secretary for culture Cecile Kalebi, students among other guests.

The short ceremony kicked off with a piece of kontredans by a group of students from Anse Boileau school, followed by poem recitals under the theme ‘Don’t be ignorant’ by two students from the same school.

Benjamine Rose, executive director of the Seychelles National Heritage Resource Council within the Seychelles National Institute for Culture, Heritage and the Arts, stated that the event was part of a week of activities to commemorate International Day for Monuments and Sites which fell on April 18 as declared by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco). This year’s theme is ‘Heritage and Climate’ and Ms Rose said the theme offers us the opportunity to reflect on the need to protect our heritage and the ways in which we may achieve equitable protection of vulnerable communities through effective actions.

She went on to point out that a deeper analysis of climate change allows the understanding that continuous erosion of the soil can easily impact the way clients access our heritage sites. “People who are physically impaired find it extremely difficult to access this particular site considering its topography,” she added.

She further noted that the United Nations’ Convention of 2006 makes it clear that the rights of people with disabilities include their participation in social life which is a fundamental human right.

Ms Rose noted that the new access way highlights the importance of accessibility to cultural space, cultural heritage sites as well as museums and galleries.

She further stressed that the Seychelles National Heritage Resource Council recognises the need for inclusivity as all the citizens of Seychelles have the same rights and values.

 “For the people who are disabled they need to have access to the heritage sites and this is why we found it necessary to open a wheelchair access to ensure all our visitors can reach the view point and learn about our heritage,” concluded Ms Rose.

Marla Simeon

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