National Assembly: | 25 November 2020
Historic address for Universal Children’s Day
Before commencing official matters yesterday morning, the National Assembly afforded some time to honour what is now becoming a tradition, with a historic address by Tannie Samedi, on the occasion of Universal Children’s Day.
Ms Samedi, a 15-year-old disabled, was born on February 19, 2005 at Victoria Hospital. The doctors noticed that she was blind and also had cleft palate and cleft lips. Over the years, she has undergone several operations to aid her speech.
She is very independent and does all her own chores in her room, at home which she shares with her sister and mother in Barbarons. She loves listening to music and her favourite singer is Auspicious, a local singer whose songs she knows off the top of her head.
During her younger years, Tannie attended the School for the Exceptional Child. Recently, she started going to Plaisance secondary school, with her mum accompanying her there every day. She enjoys Science and History the most.
At 15, she is very tech-savvy. She likes to chat online via Whatsapp, and to also spend time with her great grandmother at La Misère. She aspires to teach others Braille when older.
Tannie was accompanied in the assembly by her mother Rachel Samedi, one of her favourite teachers from the School for the Exceptional Child Michaela Nourrice and representatives of the National Council for Children (NCC) who have helped her prepare for this day.
During her address, the young talent read off her speech written in Braille, in which she pointed out some constraints she faces as a disabled girl in today’s society.
Among the recommendations she put forth, were for more support for educators, carers and parents with children with special needs and for improved facilities, more opportunities for development to be made accessible to persons who are functionally limited.
“None of Seychelles’ children should be left behind. Not everyone understands our disability. It is time for children and adults to understand us, support us and help us. If tomorrow you are involved in an accident, you too can become like us. Let us be more serious with abuse on children like me,” she said.
“I don’t really like to go to town, because I am yet to be taught how to use my cane. Not all places have railings as well, to hold onto. If you are in a wheelchair, it is even worse. Most public places are not accessible to persons with disabilities,” she said.
Tannie, in her captivating and heart-tugging address, voiced pleas on behalf of children with disabilities to be heard and represented.
“When I finish school, I would like to become a braille teacher. Will it be possible for me? All depends on what you do for me and for children with disabilities in Seychelles. Make it your priority and if I return in five years, you will be proud to see that I have not failed you,” she said.
“It is hard to have a child like me. Thank you to all parents who are like my mother. You abandon all to ensure we have a future. Thank you mummy, you did not ask for me to be like this but you love me with all your heart. I love you too. Thank you to all the people who work with children with disabilities. You deserve to be recognised! Continue! Thank you to all workplaces that employ people with disabilities, we are people with talent and we can contribute too,” Tannie added.
In concluding, Tannie expressed her dreams and that of other children to see their dreams through and by wishing all children a Happy Universal Children’s Day.
She was met with applause and a standing ovation upon concluding.
Leader of the opposition Sebastien Pillay remarked that Tannie’s address not only serves to highlight the constraints faced by persons with disabilities, but also serves to remind other children of the importance of making the most of the opportunities at hand.
Leader of government business Bernard Georges expressed admiration for Tannie’s determination and courage, as well as her mother Rachel, and on behalf of the assembly and Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) members, pledged to focus efforts towards facilitating opportunities and offering relief and support for others affected.
Speaker of the House Roger Mancienne allowed Honourable Naddy Zialor a few words.
Thanking Tannie for the courage to make the strong and touching statement, he was rewarded with applause when he said:
“Tannie said today that she has a dream, and what I captured from that was not that Tanie has a disability, but the world around Tannie has a disability. It is that their needs are not being met, and I wish, allow me to launch an appeal to government today. We need more resources in the Disability Trust Fund in order to meet the needs, especially with regard to advanced technologies, adaptive aids, facilities to render the lives of persons with disabilities, much, much easier,” he said.
The United Nations drafted the Convention on the Rights of the Child on November 20, 1989. The convention provides for all the basic needs of children from before birth to maturity, or 18 years old by Seychelles legal framework.
“Essentially what we are honouring is children’s rights, and I think we can say that there is no greater or noble feat than defending and promoting the rights of children. In the world today, children’s rights remains a matter which requires a lot of political will, a lot legislative work, governmental efforts, and communal participation, at an organisational level or an individual level,” Hon. Zialor said.
“In our country, even if we are free of the most severe circumstances, too many children still endure violence, abuse, poverty and a lack of opportunity for development and to a happy life,” Speaker of the House Roger Mancienne said.
It is the third year that the house honours the Day, first introduced by the assembly’s Committee for Media, Youth and Sports.