Local TV presenter Samantha Moyo became aware that disabled people in Mbare, Harare often lived a secluded and difficult life. So, she launched Signs of Hope Trust, an organisation that aims to educate people about the plight of the disabled.
Moyo is now bringing together a group of disabled actors and has written a play.
“This group will perform various productions which outline the plight of disabled people,” she said. “Auditions are going to be held countrywide and we encourage the disabled to participate.”
The actors would be encouraged to form a permanent arts group.
Moyo told The Zimbabwean that ignorance was a major factor in fuelling negative perceptions about the disadvantaged and her objective was to help society adopt a progressive approach towards the vulnerable.
“Communities should be educated on disability related issues and challenges,” said Moyo. “Art is one way of doing that and I believe that the arts can bring social change.”
Signs of Hope Trust works with families, guardians, institutions and disabled people themselves to raise awareness and to advocate for a change in attitudes. The organisation provides psychosocial support to families and promotes the integration of disabled people in the community.
“Guardians bear the costs of paying fees, buying food and general upkeep for the people in their care. It is very difficult for them to engage in any other activity because all their time is devoted care-giving,” said Moyo, adding that her main targets were women.
Moyo’s work includes helping families and guardians in Mbare to create small income-generating projects to sustain themselves.
“We realised that we should encourage families to start initiatives that are not capital-intensive. They are making liquid soap and washing up liquid, beaded jewellery, mats and hats, which we hope to brand and market on their behalf,” she explained.
“We adopted the concept of recycling and we found artists who are willing to teach the guardians to make hats out of used cans and to make mats from used magazines.”
Moyo believes that involving families is important because they are the best advocates for behaviour change in their communities.
Ellen Mufema (49), a beneficiary, said families living with disabled people should be supported not only financially but psychologically.
“Society discriminates against us, but there is need for more awareness that people living with disability are human and should be supported by all means possible,” said Mufema, a single mother. Mufema’s eight-year-old son has cerebral palsy.
Moyo says the organisation is planning to host a disability awareness conference on November 29 as part of its advocacy campaign.Post published in: News