Kwekwe  woman  fails to cope with child with disability

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… as husband abandons family

Partinella Ngozo

Raising a child with disability is a challenge to most parents in the society because they face numerous challenges including discrimination amongst the members of the society.

Throughout Africa people with disabilities are seen as hopeless, helpless and a curse in society, thus the African culture and belief have not made matters easier for them.

Parents of children with disabilities experience greater stress and a larger number of caregiving challenges, such as health problems, greater feelings of restriction, and a higher levels of parental depression than parents of children without disabilities. Families of children with special needs face both normal pressures and tensions of family life and in addition, adjustments to the presence of the child with a disability. Such families usually require assistance in order to recognise their lives towards positive adaptation (Smith 2002)

Speaking to this publication, Beatrice Ncube a mother of three aired out the challenges that she is facing because of her 3-year-old son with disabilities. Narrating her ordeal, she says it has been a difficult phase for her and the children.

“Energy just like most children was born physically fit without any form of disabilities and at 2months I started observing some changes on him. We were on and off in hospitals because the child stopped growing normally like children of his age. Noticing these changes my husband ran away from us and we do not know where he went,” she said.

“Most care givers who are women face stigma in most societies and are looked down upon by most people and the children with a physical or mental disability – or both – are born into extreme poverty, deprivation or conflict, their chances of fulfilling their potential are drastically reduced”, she said.

According to the World Health Organisation, 15 percent of the global population lives with disabilities, making it the largest minority in the world with children numbering higher among those persons with disabilities.

For parents the discovery that a child has disability is an intense and traumatic event. When the parents learn that the child is in some way abnormal the effects can be devastating worse still for Ncube whose husband ran away after realizing the situation, forcing her to bear all the burden. It is becoming increasingly difficult for her to support her children with food. Community members have also exhibited marked stigma as they are not willing to offer her menial jobs on the basis of her child’s disability.

“Most people in our society view us as outcasts and they do not want to help us even when if I ask for employment. Because of my child, most people do not want to employ me at the present moment,” she said.

Ncube however vowed to continue  looking for assistance so that she can take care of her children.

“I am looking for assistance in cash or kind to take care of my children  and also a wheel chair since I cannot find any form of employment so far and for those who can assist I live at Farm number 6 in Muwande area in Kwekwe and my number is +263774729163 ,” she said.

Few people realize how difficult it is to be a parent until they themselves become the parents. It is even more difficulty to be a parent of a child with special needs. Families with children with disabilities want the same things as other families. They want to see their children reach their full potential, they want to be included and accepted by their community and they want to enjoy things together and have fun (Baker and Fenning, 2007). For this to happen there is need for the society to recognize each child’s capabilities rather than seeing only disability and they must also see the value of the parents.

Disability Activist Nozipho Rutsate said that most caregivers in our society face high level of discrimination and are treated as outcast in societies.

“It’s a dire situation and sometimes women who have children with disabilities usually hide their children since they do not want to be looked down upon and discriminated by the society,” she said.

Rutsate stated that stigma leads to people with disabilities being treated differently and often results in them being excluded from educational and training opportunities, employment and livelihood opportunities, health and other public services, and full participation in all aspects of society, including decision-making.

“There should be inclusion in all facets of lives and institution. Society should allow children with disabilities to express themselves for example in education children with disabilities instead of them going to disability schools they should be given an opportunity to learn with other children this would promote inclusion of children living with disabilities,” she said.

Rutsate also talked about the issue of leaving no one behind in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and said there is need for inclusion of persons with disabilities in all institutions in Zimbabwe for example during budgets they should be funds for children living with disabilities as well.

“Disability is not inability therefore the society should understand and not discriminate people living with disabilities,” she said.

Studies have shown that girls are much less likely to finish primary school than boys, if both present disabilities. And girls are more vulnerable to sexual violence.

Community Voices Zimbabwe would like to advise that there is need for assistance from the government and key stakeholders to increase investment in the development and even the production of key technologies that can assist persons with disabilities. Technologies that focuses on hearing aids, wheelchairs, prosthetics, and glasses, giving children with disabilities the chance to see themselves as able from their early age so that they grow up knowing that they matter and have a huge role to play in the society just like everyone else.

There is also need for training to those parents of children with disabilities so that they know how to cope with the situation.

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