Serafina Bete: Being The Voice of People with Disabilities

Serafina Bete, known as Mama Fina, is a WASH activist, specializing in advocating for people with disabilities. She is currently the Coordinator of PERSANI (Persatuan Tuna Daksa Kristiani/Christian Disability Society) in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.

For years, she has been the voice for people with disabilities in many sectors. Mama Fina has been actively campaigning for inclusive access Sanitation and Hygiene facilities for people with disabilities in East Nusa Tenggara through PERSANI.

Mama Fina believes that sanitation facilities such as toilets should be made accessible to everyone, including wheelchair users, pregnant women, and elderly people. Serafina encouraged every stakeholder, including government and local Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to better understand and fulfill the rights of the people with disabilities.

Figure 1: Mama Fina together with District WASH Working Group  participating in WASH monitoring to ensure accessibility of  WASH facility in school in Belu District

Yayasan Plan International Indonesia (Plan Indonesia) through WINNER project is  partnering with PERSANI to implement Inclusive STBM campaign in Malaka  and Belu, NTT Province.

Together with the local government PERSANI identifies, audits, and monitors the accessibility for people with disability, and provides recommendations to policy makers. 

Mama Fina believes that people with disabilities must be engaged, invited in discussion, and given space to provide inputs, especially to the things related to their lives, as they are the ones who know best about their needs. She thinks that stakeholders must restrain from unilaterally assuming the needs of the people with disabilities. Serafina hoped that the sanitation program run by the government would not leave anyone behind. 

The principle of “leave no one behind” will make everyone feel comfortable using a toilet. “We are not asking for any special toilet. We just want inclusive ones, which everyone can access” is what she has been trying to voice out in many forums she invited to.

During campaigning for inclusive STBM in Malaka and Belu for two years, Plan Indonesia and PERSANI have succeeded in educating the people and local government about the importance of inclusive sanitation.

“I’m proud to be able to encourage fellow people with disabilities in Malaka and Belu regency to be involved in building quality sanitation in their respective villages. Now, the government as well as the people hear and understand our aspirations to have a proper and quality sanitation access and facilities,” said Fina.