Lifeline For People With Disabilities

Without assistive devices, most people with disabilities find it tough to engage in meaningful income-generating activities, this could change soon.

People living with disabilities in Binga could get a lifeline through a US$1,6 million sustainability programme initiated by Christian Blind Mission (CBM) for self-help projects to improve rehabilitation and livelihoods. The project titled “Improving the quality of life of persons with disabilities” is being piloted in Siansundu ward 9, Dobola ward 14, Kariangwe ward 15, and Pashu ward 19, where US$200 000 has since been poured with preliminary work including finalising a Memorandum of Understanding with Binga Rural District Council and Jairos Juri is being completed.

Maxon Nyathi (52) of Siansundu has been visually impaired since the age of seven when he lost sight as a grade one young boy. He is married to Rebecca Shoshore and has three minor children who are not going to school because of a lack of money. Nyathi and his wife commute between Binga and Victoria Falls or Hwange, where they beg for livelihood, and he believes the CBM initiative could give his family a lifeline.

“We beg on the streets for survival, and if this programme succeeds, it probably will improve our livelihoods. My first daughter should be in grade one while her young brother should be starting grade zero, but we don’t have money for them to go to school.” He walks with the aid of a walking stick as he begs for money and food, while his wife also struggles to walk as her legs are deformed. Life has never been better for the couple, and they are some of the many vulnerable disabled in the district.

Marvelous Tshuma (25), a vice-chair of Noble Hands Zimbabwe Trust for people with disabilities and vulnerable children, says the exact number of people living with disabilities in Binga is unknown.

“We know there could be more than 120 people that used to attend meetings and workshops, but that is not everyone as many could be stuck in their villages around the district because of distance and terrain,” Tshuma says.

She says people mostly need help with food as she implores authorities and humanitarian organisations to help identify all disabled people in the district.

Tshuma says people living with disability used to get assistance from Social Welfare and Roman Catholic Church. Still, the donations have been affected by COVID-19 as they no longer come as expected. “People need projects to sustain themselves rather than just to sit and wait for donors,” says Tshuma.

Lack of developmental projects has resulted in donor syndrome in Binga as donors used to take turns to donate food and other items, and communities have been left more vulnerable once such initiatives stop.

Organisations such as Jairos Jiri, which deals with the welfare of people with disabilities, have been invisible in the area. CBM is working with Jairos Jiri on the project. Chief Pashu says the CBM programme will be a blessing for many people with disabilities, especially when Jairos Jiri has not been visible. CBM is an international Christian development organisation committed to improving the quality of life of persons with disabilities in the world’s poorest communities. CBM aims for an inclusive world in which all persons with disability enjoy their rights and achieve their full potential and is coming in as a funding partner while Jairos Jiri will the implementing partner for the project titled. Similar projects are underway in Chimanimani, Chipinge and Harare. For Binga, an initial US$200 000 has been set aside for spearheading initiatives and activities for rehabilitation, income-generating activities, advocacy and awareness and lobbying.

A meeting was held recently between CBM and stakeholders, including the local authority. It was agreed that people with disabilities would be provided with proper rehabilitation plans, including assistive devices. CBM national executive director Wilson Ruvere said the programme targets strengthened self-help structures, improved rehabilitation services, inclusive education and livelihood measures used by more people with disabilities.

“This project is in its initial stage as the organisation is currently carrying out community awareness campaigns aimed at sensitising community leaders and members at large as well as getting buy for sustainability purposes.”
Wilson Ruvere, CBM national executive director

“We are using a community-based inclusive development approach as a way of working within the community, ensuring that people with disability are respected and included on an equal basis. It promotes growth in the community and encourages people to use available resources in their communities for the benefit of everyone, including people with disabilities,” Ruvere says.

A representative from Jairos Jiri said the association decided to work with Binga because, for a long time, the district had been left behind in most developmental programmes due to its geographical location. This affected people with disabilities more as they are already vulnerable. Apart from Binga, Jairos Jiri operates in Harare, Chipinge, Chimanimani, Bulawayo, Mudzi, Chivi, Insiza and Lupane.

Source: The Citizen Bulletin

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