World News from Zimbabwe
"A society where everyone, regardless of background or disability, feels welcome, included and supported"
Miss Disability Winners Receive Prizes
(By Kudakwashe Chideme, AllAfrica.com, 09.10.11) Miss Disability Harare 2011 Yeukai Mazhawidzwa was all smiles after she received her prizes for clinching the crown at a glittering ceremony held at Leonard Cheshire Trust in Harare. The 25-year-old walked away with a return air ticket for two to Victoria Falls courtesy of Air Zimbabwe and voucher valued at US$150 from Topics and accommodation for two at any Hotel or Lodge of her choice.
Chiedza Nkomazana, who emerged the second princess, got a holiday voucher for two at Carribea Bay Hotel in Kariba courtesy of Africa Sun, US$100 shopping voucher from Topics and her travelling expenses will be covered by the trust. Second princess Talent Muchengwi won herself a dinner voucher for two at the Rainbow Towers plus a Topics voucher valued at US$50.
Speaking at the prize-giving event, Juliet Muzondo, the co-ordinator of the pageant, expressed delight at the support the beauty pageant received from the corporate world. "We are grateful of the support we got from our sponsors and partners. We hope to build on this relationship such that we have a much bigger and even better organised event next year," she said.
Miss Disability was held last month with 15 beauties taking to the ramp. "We have started consultations with the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe to take the event to the rest of the country. It is our hope that disabled ladies from all parts of the country become part of this pageant," Muzondo said. She said it was the trust's vision to make the beauty pageant an annual national event.
The newly crowned Miss Disability 2011 Yeukai, a psychology student at the Zimbabwe Open University, said she was ready to take on her role as ambassador of young disabled women in Zimbabwe. She said the inclusion of disabled persons in life issues would see an end to discrimination.
"We are also human and as such we deserve to be treated equally with dignity, it is only with the support of the rest of society that we will curb discrimination," she said. The Leonard Cheshire Trust is a member of the Leonard Cheshire Disability Global Alliance which operates in more than 50 countries worldwide. It is a non-profit organisation working with children and youth with disabilities.
Boy proves disability not inability
(By Jane Makoni, 07.11.10, Marondera) A visually challenged Waddilove Boarding Primary School pupil, Wilfred Kawanji recently proved that disability is not inability after he was chosen as head boy. “Wilfred is a visually challenged Grade Seven pupil, but this did not affect his leadership capabilities. He has been an outstanding school leader for some time,” said one of his teachers.
He rose through the ranks from class monitor, prefect and finally school head boy.
“He maintains discipline among fellow school children. His sound leadership qualities earned him respect among teachers, non teaching staff and school children. He has a rare sense of feeling as he can sense mischief around him. The 629 school children under his charge take his orders without questioning,” said another teacher.
Others described him as a talented leader destined for dizzy heights in life.
Impressed with his commendations, former governor for Mashonaland East Province, Ray Kaukonde, gave the outstanding school head boy US$50 reward for exemplary leadership.
“Keep up the good leadership and wish you well in your future endeavours”, said Kaukonde who was the guest of honour at the school’s prize giving ceremony
Disability in Zimbabwe
(By King George VI Centre, 28.07.10) Zimbabwe is becoming an increasingly impoverished country with one of the biggest gaps between the rich and the poor. In addition we have one of the highest AIDS infection rates in the world. Invariably it is the poorer sectors of society who suffer most under such circumstances. (Pictured: Disabled children at King George VI Centre) In addition to poverty and the threat of AIDS our children are further disadvantaged by being disabled.
Disabled people in Zimbabwe have always been socially disadvantaged and even now many are not accepted into society but are kept hidden by their families. There is at last a strong group in Zimbabwe lobbying for the rights of the disabled but at present this is only looking at the rights of an adult. The position for disabled children is even worse than for adults
Excluded from normal life
Up until a few years ago most severely disabled children were kept at home and were excluded even from normal family life. More children are now being sent to school at an earlier age but still too many disabled children are kept at home until they are too big to handle and then sent to school when it is sometimes too late for effective treatment.
We have just been asked to help a 20 year disabled man who was found in one of the rural areas of Zimbabwe. He appears to have normal intelligence but because of his physical disability was never given the opportunity to go to school. He will not be alone in this. During the last official Census, there were many cases of parents replying to the question of how many children they had with the answer - “I have 4 children and that disabled one”
Nearly half of our disabled children come from one-parent families. Parents often blame each other for having a child with a disability, one parent will then abandon the family and stepparents are reluctant to take on a disabled child. This can cause much fighting and disruption in a family with the disabled child being at the centre of the trouble.
What will happen to me?
Disabled children in Zimbabwe suffer from the continual fear of being abandoned. They unfortunately accept that they will not be fully participating members of the family and as AIDS takes its toll in a family and children are passed from one adult to another, they always have the question “What will happen to me”. At the end of every term, children at KGVI wait anxiously at the door and ask themselves if this will be the holiday when no one will come to pick them and take them home.
Too frequently when our disabled children go home for the holidays their parents or guardians cannot accept their new found skills and independence. Often they are still left sitting in a corner, considered to be a trial to the rest of the family instead of being encouraged to use their growing abilities.
Schools close their doors on disabled children
Schools and tertiary education centres are reluctant to take in disabled children. One of the ex-pupils from this school was refused entrance to the local university simply because he is hard of hearing, several have been unable to attend secretarial colleges because they are situated upstairs.
Public transport is a problem and many children have to be pushed to school because the local minibus services are unwilling to take the time and trouble to load up a child in a wheelchair. We have many cases of public buses refusing to take a child in a wheelchair which makes transport home during the holidays a nightmare.
Most companies are unwilling to offer work experience to school leavers and certainly do not give them permanent employment.
Most buildings are inaccessible to children in wheelchairs or on crutches. When the KGVI band performs at any public venue they have to be lifted on to the stage in their wheelchairs.
No allowances are made for those children who are hard of hearing. No signing is permitted for exams and they are expected to take the same exams as their hearing classmates.
Disabled children are excluded from most inter school events because of the problems of access, seating or simply an unwillingness to allow such children to participate with ‘normal children’.
Survey excluded the disabled children
A survey undertaken by Unicef on Knowledge, Attitudes, Beliefs and Child Care Practices in Zimbabwe failed to find any realistic figures on children with disabilities. When challenged on this, the consultants claimed that the disabled children had been hidden away from them. Further information to come out of this study was that most school children interviewed maintained that disabled children should not be offered an education (June 2001).
A pittance per month
In a wealthy country such problems would automatically come under the work of a social welfare department and social workers. Unfortunately, the social welfare department in Zimbabwe is probably the most impoverished and demoralised of all government departments. Many of our children come under this department because their parents simply cannot manage to pay school fees, transport and other basic needs. In the past the ministry has paid out a pittance per child per month. Now they cannot even afford this. Most disturbing of all is that the department has not been able to assist us with the increasing number of serious social problems faced by our students. Editor’s note: This article and picture was taken from King George VI Centre Website.
|MDAA gratefully acknowledges funding provided by the Australian Government through the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs,
as well as Ageing, Disability and Home Care, Department of Human Services NSW.
For Telephone Interpreter Service - Call 13 14 50
9381, Harris Park NSW 2150, Australia
(02) 9891 6400 | Fax (02) 9635 5355