Tendai Guvamombe (Rushinga)
Mashonaland Central’s Rushinga District has recorded a remarkable improvement on disability rights and mainstreaming in the society.
On Friday last week, Development Aid from People to People(DAPP) held a media tour to Rushinga District. This was to mirror on the extent of disability appreciation by various stakeholders.
This came at the back of disability mainstreaming, a programme that anchors on Youths With Disabilities (YWDs).
The programme is also being implemented in other districts of Bindura and Shamva.
DAPP is at the center of implementation, partnered with Leonard Cheshire Disability and European Union(EU).
The tour encompassed both Rushinga Urban and Rural Districts.
Spotlight Online News Africa held an interview with Rushinga’s District Development Coordinator (DDC) to reflect on strides made by the government and the NGO Forum. This included implementation of United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
“As a district we are beginning to notice positive changes regarding the way our communities handle disability issues.We actually see Youth Lot of improvement on Disability issues. YWDs are now engaging in advocate and disability inclusion programs. Government is also assisting in building friendly environment infrastructure in schools and clinics.”
“We are glad that youths with disabilities are now able to do self employment projects to sustain their living and we have seen them participating in national policy programs ,” said Lauretta Rumbidzai Jonasi Rushinga District Coordinator.
Rushinga District has 576 Children with disabilities and 278 youths with disabilities. 154 are girls.
Webster Jasi a Warfare Learning Officer with Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education said that he has been closely working with DAPP in engaging communities. Appreciated handing over of tablets to YWDs by the NGO Forum.
“We have been working with DAPP in engaging communities reminding them that it is children’s rights to go to school.Most parents are now seen sending their children with disabilities to school. We are happy that DAPP handed over tablets to them for learning and communication purposes.”
Wilson Jongwe, Social Development Officer in the district said DAPP played an a crucial role in bringing together all stakeholders from in all 25 districts of Rushinga.
“Through DAPP’s interventions all the 25 districts were sensitized on Disability inclusion and mainstreaming. The awareness raising was done to all stakeholders. Usually this made our job easier which focuses on referral and identification,” he said.
However, the issue of interpretation of sign language is still a challenge as there are few skilled personnel in schools and clinics.
Tawanda Mangetani Youth With Disability Chairperson in Bungwe Ward 8-9 said despite learning about UNCRPD a lot was still need to be done to counter language barrier. This was due to inadequate sign language translators.
“DAPP empowered us through UNCRPD. We now know our rights, we learnt about disability rights, right to education, health, among others. Our challenges are on interpretation of sign language and schools. Sign language interpreters are still few.children struggles as they travel long distance to school.”
Weston Manyenga another YWD explained how youths are earning a living through weaving and selling. Said the charity model is now a thing of the past.
“We make designed baskets and brushes which we sell for us to earn a living. We started these projects after learning from DAPP about UNCRPD which talks about our rights.”
“We decided to work for our living and this shows we are now independent. We cannot continue living under the charity models,” he said.
Rushinga District has already seen the light of disability inclusion following the election of a councilor in Chimhanda Ward 13.
Councilor Joseph Chiputura has visual impairment disability and he is also chairperson of a disabled persons organization Chimhanda Voluntary Organization for Persons with Disabilities.
Speaking to this news crew Chiputura said Rushinga District is in an awakening phase of disability mainstreaming and inclusion.
“DAPP assisted us in teaching the UNCRPD to the community. Today I am among few people to register a disabled persons organization. Apart from this I was voted a councilor in the district. This shows people are now aware of disability rights,” he said.
Sustainable Development Goals calls for everyone’s inclusion in any particular course of development around the globe and implementation of UNCRPD is fundermental to ensure rights of persons with disabilities (PWDs).