Blind teacher wins fight for job

A blind teacher, Tendai Ndongwe (33), is now a beacon of hope to people living with disabilities after she won a case to get back the job she lost when her vision disappeared six years ago.

Kudzi Shava: “We are delighted that at last Ndongwe has managed to get her job back.”
Kudzi Shava: “We are delighted that at last Ndongwe has managed to get her job back.”

The Public Service Commission had fired her without adequate compensation.

Ndongwe, who trained at Marymount Teachers College before being posted to Chipinge, developed an eyesight problem in 2006 after visiting a foreign doctor who was working in the country.

After exhausting all avenues in Mutare, she went to Mogernster Mission Hospital where she was informed it was impossible to restore her sight. She was given a certificate of blindness.

Ndongwe then went to Kapota School for the Blind where she leant Braille in 2008. She joined a local Disability Committee where she was elected Manicaland Regional Secretary General. She later assumed the post of chairperson in 2010.

“I did not know what steps to take until after I joined the Regional Disability Advocacy where this NGO Mercy Corps was running some programmes. I managed to network with a lot of people who gave me the courage to fight my dismissal,” she said.

Ndongwe refused to give up because she knew there was light at the end of tunnel.

“I am grateful that they reinstated me. I am now able to look after my child who is in Form One. Life was terrible for me because I did not have any source of income to fend for my family,” she said.

Ndongwe, now a Grade Three teacher at Chihere primary school in Odzi, resumed her teaching duties when schools opened in January.

Grateful but bitter

Although grateful, she is bitter about the time she lost while she struggled to get redress.

“If I look back six years is not a joke because I lost a lot of time and I could have achieved a lot,” she said.

“I was working and I got the skills and qualification so I don’t see the reason why people with disability should be discriminated against. Government should come up with a clear policy to protect such people from unfair dismissal,” Ndongwe said, adding that such people often did a better job than those who are able-bodied.

She cited an example of another visually impaired teacher, Baxter Dzindira, in Mutambara who recorded a 100 percent pass rate in his area of specialisation.

Hope

Ndongwe works with an assistant whose salary is paid by government.

Kudzi Shava, a disability activist, said it was high time employers changed their attitudes towards the disabled.

Shava said employers should create a friendly environment for everyone.

“For example, we simply need new technology which is user friendly so that the disabled can do the same work as able-bodied people.”

Another local disability activist, Clide Bvunzawabaya, described Ndongwe’s reinstatement a ‘triumph’.

“Ndongwe’s reinstatement is a victory for all the disabled in the country who have been suffering in silence. Our modern society is full of discrimination and injustices. We will continue to lobby for equality,” said Bvunzawabaya.

Progression, an international charity, estimates that 1,4 million people are living with disabilities. United Nations estimates that a total number of disabilities in Africa are about 80 million. A good number of them are not employed and depended on begging for survival.

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