By Byron Mutingwende
The Zimbabwe Parents of Handicapped Children Association (ZPHCA) gave children with disabilities a rare treat when it threw a belated Christmas party for them and donated some goodies.
“Some of these do not appear in public. Our friends from China and Mimosa Mining Company donated some groceries, clothes and foodstuffs as well as some wheelchairs for children with severe multiple disabilities. Today we throw a belated party to these vulnerable children as we raise awareness of the challenges they face in the community,” said Theresa Makwara, the ZPHCA Coordinator.
Makwara said parents of children with disabilities face a plethora of challenges and urged society to recognise that these are part of needy groups which should be remembered and recognised.
“We should fight self-stigma whereby some of the parents hide their children from the public glare. Some of these children pray for the development of the country. They want accessible, inclusive infrastructure,” she said.
Clayton Mbombo (37), brother to Tino who stays with their mother said his youngster survives through taking tablets.
“At times we don’t have money to buy the tablets he takes daily for survival. Without the tablets, his life will be at risk. He is 19 years old but looks like a 10-year-old.
“We appeal for the government to build more special schools like Jairos Jiri. He can’t sit or walk on his own. He can’t sit upright in a chair. The new government should work towards improving the lives of these children with disabilities. I am thankful to ZPHCA for organising an event where the children mix and mingle with other members of the community,” Mbombo said.
Florence Ngondi (36) is mother to Jeffrey Chimombe. Jeffrey was born with cerebral pulse. I realised it when he was seven months old. We face challenges in getting places to lodge.
“I don’t have money to send him to school. Even though I took his issue to the Social Welfare Department, he was never registered to become a beneficiary of maize and rice rations. He doesn’t have a wheelchair yet he can’t sit on his own. He wears diapers yet he is now 11 years old. We don’t have a centre for children with disabilities in area of Zengeza 4. We hold our meetings under the tree at Hutano Centre.”
Thabani Dube’s has a 10-year-old son who was enrolled at Jairos Jiri for early child development (ECD) and was referred to Tose Special School which costs $400 per term.
“I have failed to raise the required fees for my child to do Grade 1 at the special school because I have two other children from my mentally-challenged sister. I am unemployed and depend on my husband who is a vendor so the money is inadequate for me to send the children to school,” Dube said.
She also revealed that she faces challenges using public transport because the wheelchair is considered as luggage and bus crews charge an extra fare for it. She urged the new government to intervene to reduce the exorbitant fees charged by special schools.
“Our request is for well-wishers to start income-generating projects for the parents of children with disabilities, provide us with clothing and mattresses for the children,” Dube added.
Theresa Makwara, the ZPHCA Coordinator said her organisation received five wheelchairs from Mimosa Mining Company as well as an assortment of various goods like shoes, satchels and groceries including maize-meal, rice, sugar, kapenta, cooking oil and peanut butter.
ZPHCA has got more than 10000 members countrywide with over a 1000 of these found in the Greater Harare area. The organisation is semi-autonomous and encourages its members to engage in income-generating activities.
The ZPHCA leadership thanked Miseror, their perennial funders, for their support over the years that has seen parents being trained on lobbying and advocacy as well as income generating projects. The support has also included awareness raising on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).