Mberengwa disabled community plead for capacity development

In-spite of all the education and campaigns done by the Government and some Non-Governmental Organisations, disabled persons are still facing serious stigma and discrimination in some remote districts of the country.

Mrs Gladys Cleopas with two of her mentally challenged children on the background (far right).

Mrs Gladys Cleopas with two of her mentally challenged children on the background (far right).

A tour by journalists organized by the Humanitarian Information Facilitation Centre(HIFIC) at the Mataga area in Mberengwa recently revealed that disabled persons in the area face rampant stigmatization and economic challenges,which is making life difficult.

Speaking to journalists at the Mataga Centre, James Matsveru, the focal person of one Non-Governmental Organisation operating in the area focusing on the disabled, who is also physically challenged, said they have been campaigning for the rights of the disabled in all wards of Mberengwa and trying to initiate income generating projects for them.

“We have been campaigning for the rights of the disabled and giving them income generating projects but our main focus at the moment was providing education,” he said.

Matsveru said the main challenges faced by the disabled and their families in the districtareabsence of user friendly infrastructure and the devastating effects of the drought that has hit the region.

“Aids and appliances are a problem here. We also have the drought challenge and as the disabled we are the hardest hit.

“Most buildings are not disability friendly even if you go to the schools, council offices, clinics and toilets they don’t have aids like building ramps, as a result the disabled persons are left-out.

“The disabled person wasa nobody but now with education and awarenesscampaigns people are now realising that we are people like them.”

Matsveruwent on to challenge the government to increase manpower in those who are helping the disabled saying there are only two rehabilitation departments who cater for the disabled in MberengwaDistrict with only two trained staff members from about four hospitals.

Despite having skills to do projects, lack of capital and resources is inhibiting their capacity to generate income for self-sustenance.

If given enough resources, the disabled community can embark on entrepreneurial projects which can help sustain their livelihood such as soap making and other projects.

RasperVheke, a physically challenged person who is married and a father of one, reiterated that disabled persons need help with capital to do self-help projects as they are able work.

“If we don’t get capital to do projects then there is nothing we can do with the current situation.

“I am a cobbler and a tailor, I can make shoes as well as sew clothes but capital is a problem,” he said.

Mrs Gladys Cleopas, a mother of six, of which three are mentally challenged, two males aged 28 and 23 years as well as a woman aged 24, says her children have faced serious discrimination and name calling at school from other children which forced them to drop out.

Despite the challenges Mrs Cleopas says her children are able to work and if given capital to start projects, they could lead decent lives.

“We had a hard time finding a place for my mentally challenged children at local schools until we had to go to the District Administrator; however they dropped out due to the negative attitude of other pupils at school who used to call them names.

“They are able to work. At the moment they are doing a garden and a small poultry project which they are doing themselves.

“We need capital to start doing the projects at a larger scale and I can supervise them,” she said.

Mrs Cleopas who is currently unemployed said as their mother, she is the best person to take care of them than any other person.

As a message of encouragement to other disabled persons, Matsveru said the disabled must not look down upon themselves.

“To be disabled does not mean you are not able to do something. Whatever you can do, do it and show the people that you are a person just like any other.”

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