International Day of People with Disability – a story from Vanuatu

3 December is the International Day of People with Disability. To celebrate, we wanted to share the story of one of our DPO partners, the Disability Promotion and Advocacy Association of Vanuatu.


Nelly Caleb is the National Coordinator for Disability Promotion and Advocacy Association (DPA).  Nelly, from the northern part of Vanuatu, has worked hard over the last 7 years to advocate for increased action to support the rights of people with disability across the country.  

Nelly is a good friend of APIDS and her organisation is an active partner. Nelly came to a training course which APIDS organised in 2008. She was a little shy in those days, and had little previous experience of managing an organisation or undertaking advocacy work at that time.  But now, with a lot of experience and a great deal of confidence, Nelly is leading a growing group of people with disability who come together to support each other and make a major contribution to the inclusion of people with disability in Vanuatu.  

DPA’s successes include:

  • Inclusion of disability as a priority within the Government’s Priority Agenda Action Plan,
  • Leading the promotion of the message regarding disability rights, through participation in national coordination meetings,
  • Supporting people with disability to understand and advocate for their rights at the provincial and island levels,
  • Working with national and international partners to promote inclusion, and
  • Promoting successes and lessons through use of the media.  

APIDS is contributing to expanding the work of DPA by paying the salary for a Communications Officer, Bani.  Nelly told us 

since Bani came to our office, my extensive workload has been reduced considerably and I think the office is running much more smoothly now…Once again, thank you so much for funding Bani’s position…because it is certainly making a big difference to our advocacy for people with disabilities.

One of APIDS’ Directors, Sally Baker, has had the opportunity to collaborate closely with Nelly and her DPA colleagues on a range of activities, and says

Nelly is a great leader and is contributing to significant changes for the lives of people with disabilities in Vanuatu. We are honoured to work with her towards this important shared objective.

Nelly reminded us recently of the famous Helen Keller quote:

alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much.  

As a person with vision impairment, it is not surprising that Nelly is inspired by Helen, as many of us are!

As is the case every year, 3 December is International Day of People with Disability.  To mark this occasion in a practical way, you might like to contribute to the great work of disabled people’s organisations around the Pacific, like DPA, through making a donation to APIDS at the following link:

Sally Baker of APIDS with Nelly Caleb of DPA together outside a building in Vanuatu

Photo: Nelly Caleb, DPA, with Sally Baker, APIDS at the Vanuatu National Disability Policy Consultation Stakeholder Workshop, August 2015, Port Vila, Vanuatu (Sally Baker)


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