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A MORE FOCUSSED APPROACH NEEDED TO EFFECTIVELY HELP PEOPLE LIVING WITH DISABILITIES

A more focussed approach is needed to effectively help People Living with Disabilities (PLWD).  Elvis Musiringofa speaks to Tendai A. Sauta about his Organisation Amor Zimbabwe Trust and their intentions on advocacy and communication, provisions of essential services and counselling .  Our Mission is… “to bring an inclusive society and promote the rights of people with disabilities through Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness and Advocacy which will in turn promote their self-empowerment. With Amor Zimbabwe Trust we will try to help them to utilise the opportunities and services to foster self-reliance and build resilient communities to propel inclusive sustainable development.”

  1.  IN BRIEF TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR CAREER AS PWD ACTIVIST?

Elvis Musirinofa is an HR Manager by Profession and a disability right activist by calling. I was born on the 18th of October 1990. I’m the founder of Amor Zimbabwe Trust and I am the Executive Director as appointed by the Board of Trustees during the first executive/board meeting.

The passion to be an activist comes from the fact that I grew up in a family that was with disabled persons. Myself I lost sight twice, my first time in grade 4 and second time I was in my final year at Midlands State University however with his mercy the Lord God our creator I recovered. I understand what it means to have a disability, I felt the challenges from my disabled relative when I was young e.g., stigma and discrimination they used to experience was said a lot to me.

My full participation in the disability started in 2014 when I joined Midlands State University of Zimbabwe (MSU). I then joined the MSU Disability Resource Centre (MSU DRC) as an assistant assisting disabled students academically and in doing other essentials of their lives.

  • ENLIGHTEN US ON DISABILITY AND YOUR VISION AND MISSION ON PWD?

My Vision and mission are those stated in the profile or Amor Zimbabwe Trust

Vision: to transform the lives of the vulnerable groups specifically people with disabilities within the boundaries of Zimbabwe through Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness and Advocacy.

Mission: to bring an inclusive society and promote the rights of people with disabilities through Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness and Advocacy which will in turn promote their self-empowerment. With Amor Zimbabwe Trust we will try to help them to utilise the opportunities and services to foster self-reliance and build resilient communities to propel inclusive sustainable development.

THE COVID19 PANDEMIC INDUCED LOCKDOWNS HAS PUT A STOPPAGE TO MOVEMENT AS A WAY TO STOP FURTHER TRANSMISSION OF THE COVID19 VIRUS. WHAT IS YOUR ASSESSMENT OF PLIGHT OF PWDS IN THIS SITUATION?

The idea of Covid-19 Lockdown as introduced by the Government of Zimbabwe is something good though it has some negative consequences to the lives of the disabled persons in Zimbabwe. Positively, it has resulted in decrease in covid-19 cases. Negatively it has affected both the disabled and non-disabled people’s community. Some of the challenges the disabled people’s community face are;

  1. Shortage of SRH services
  2. Poor health facilities
  3. Shortage of cash and failure to purchase basic commodities
  4. Failure to sustain facilities
  5. Increase in anti-social behaviour cases
  6. Continuous discrimination
  7. Failure of women to access sanitary pads

With the continuous increase in the challenges disabled persons face, I strongly support that there is a high demand for community and school awareness on handling disability issues. There are so many centres in Zimbabwe that provide disability trainings. Some of them are

  1. Jairos Jiri Centre for Special Needs Education
  2. Zimbabwe Open University
  3. Great Zimbabwe University
  4. Reformed Church University (Masvingo)
  5. United College of Education (Bulawayo)
  6. Kapota School of the blind
  7. Dorothy Duncan (Braille training)
  • In terms of the constitution. What laws and rights should people know about disability?

Disability.

  1. Section 22 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe covers Disability issues
  2. Disability Act – Section 8 (1, 2 3 and 4) “Prohibition of denial to disabled persons of access to public premises, services and amenities “, Section 9 (1, 2, 3 and 4) “Prohibition of discrimination against disabled persons in employment”
  • FROM THE DISCUSSIONS HELD IN YOUR PWD GROUP, WHAT RECOMMENDATIONS ARE YOU PUSHING FORWARD TO THE DISABILITY ACTIVISTS AND THE PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE?

Disability Activists

The challenges faced by our fellow disabled friends and relatives are a clear indication that the battle for disability rights is still on. To achieve the battle, it needs people who are strong and committed enough to the advocacy work. Both self and representative advocacy must be applied. There is also need for a paradigm shift from theory advocacy where we cry on the challenges without acting to practical advocacy. Crying is not a solution but action can bring results.

Activists also need to educate the society on inclusion as the best solution. The society need to be educated to make sure their misconceptions/wrong perceptions towards disability are reversed and they consider PWDs as human beings with the same equal rights and stipulated but various National and International legal instruments such as the Disability Act, the Disability Policy recently launched by his excellence Cde E D Mnangagwa, the Constitution of Zimbabwe and also the United Nations Convention on the Rights of PWDs (UNCRPD).

Parliament of Zimbabwe

Since it is said “Nothing about disability without the disabled” the parliament of Zimbabwe must consider disability issues at the core of debates. Representation of PWDS must also increase. They need to have sit in the parliament. With increased representation their voices can be heard and disability issues won’t be taken for granted. 

  • WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING AND HOW ARE YOU GOING AROUND THEM?

Financial Challenges

  • The greatest challenge we are currently facing is lack of funding which can ensure the smooth flow of our services
  • Economic Challenges which are affecting the whole country are greatly affecting our board members – finances we use are from members’ contributions.

Operational Challenges

Continuous lockdowns – we can’t implement our projects and programs physically.

8. YOUR CLOSING REMARKS?

On behalf of the Amor Zimbabwe Trust I want to say thank you for considering us sharing these issues pertaining disability, ensuring the news is spread and letting the community know that people with disabilities are also human beings which have the same equal rights. This will help a long way ensuring all members are involved in the promotion of the rights and welfare of the disabled. Lastly, we thank all our stakeholders mainly our focus group (the disabled) with the trust they have in us and also the support they render which has taken us this far.

 NB: Amor Zimbabwe Trust is an organisation founded to transform the lives of the vulnerable groups specifically people with disabilities within the boundaries of Zimbabwe through Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness and Advocacy and ourmotto is “to protect and promote the rights and welfare of the disabled and other vulnerable groups”

STORY BY TENDAI A. SAUTA 0772761139 (WhatsApp)

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