FIJI'S lone athlete to the Paralympic Game in London early this month has strengthened Fiji's call for a change in mind-set — a total paradigm shift from a lack of confidence to absolute confidence in persons with disability.
President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau said this during the celebration of Delana's historical achievement saying his win had called for a change in perception. Ratu Epeli said it could not have come at a better time.
He said Delana had also made a special group of people extremely proud and it was time people of Fiji changed their perception towards persons with special needs because it had taken a person with special needs to bring glory and honour to the country.
"This is a monumental feat particularly since we have been participating in the Paralympic and the Olympic games for over some six decades," he said.
Ratu Epeli was pleased to note that the Fijian government was taking the lead in changing perceptions.
"Government has, and continues to bring changes to ensure that Fiji caters for persons with special needs," Ratu Epeli said.
"As you all know for the past six years, Fiji has tried to garner the international community's attention and support for its reform and modernising agenda," he said.
"We appealed for empathy, for the sovereign freedom to do what is right, and for the support to build a truly united, prosperous and progressive Fiji.
"This was not forthcoming," he said. "Very few countries recognised our genuine efforts to develop a better Fiji or provided the much needed understanding and encouragement that we sought."
He said Fiji was isolated where she was forced to forge new friendships.
"This we did and we are now thriving on those new friendships," Ratu Epeli said.
He said government was committed to doing the best for persons with special needs and all it took was a change of mind-set.