Poultry project makes life bearable

Shanangurai Mukono, 52, was born a normal person, but at the age of six she developed muscular dystrophy, a disabling and costly disease which has severely curtailed her mobility.

Shanangurai Mukono: started with 100 chicks and next month will finish repaying the loan.
Shanangurai Mukono: started with 100 chicks and next month will finish repaying the loan.

With nine dependents to look after, Mukono has been struggling to make ends meet. Muscular dystrophy is a group of disorders in which skeletal muscles weaken as a result of the deterioration of certain necessary proteins. It is a genetic disorder that causes serious disability in a short period of time and is currently incurable.

In order to improve the lives and well-being of people living with the disease, the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Zimbabwe runs small livelihood projects such as poultry rearing and gardening for its members.

“MDAZ loaned me $600 to start a small poultry project at my home in Nguboyenja high density suburb. I started off with 100 chicks and next month I will finish repaying the loan. All my dependents are surviving through this project and my only handicap right now is shortage of space,” said Mukono.

Watson Khupe, the manager and a founder member of the association, said so far more than 500 members throughout the country had benefitted from the project, which is supported by the African Development Fund.

“Most of our members like those at Khami Prisons have fully utilized the loans they took. Some have managed to send their children to school while others have been able to provide for their families from produce from their gardens. Some have been even selling the produce to earn extra cash, “said Khupe.

Most people regard the disease as a curse and many members are treated as second class citizens, he said. “Some people still believe that muscular dystrophy is a curse, caused by witchcraft or other social ills. At times patients are treated as outcasts. Even the authorities do not take our issues seriously. For example, the disability act clearly states that adjustments for easy accessibility should be done to public buildings – but most of our members cannot access many places, including government buildings,” he said.

“We hope our members’ lives will improve following the formation of the new government. We need comprehensive disability policies which will not only improve the lives of people living with muscular dystrophy but will also improve the lot of all disabled people in the country,” said Khupe.

The Muscular Dystrophy Association of Zimbabwe was formed in 1992 by people living with the disease. It lobbies for the rights and welfare of members and provides a forum for the exchange of ideas , experiences and solutions to specific conditions and needs of its members. Like most other organisations of this nature, the association faces serious financial challenges which have affected its programmes.

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