The buzz all over social media and gatherings in this era is the endeavour to achieve equality of opportunities and social acceptance. Unfortunately not enough attention has been offered to people living with disabilities. Disability is an umbrella term covering impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. At face value, an individual may face a problem in body function or structure and may encounter difficulties in executing a task or action but to many disability has been perceived as inability. There is a great need for people to consider that most people did wonderful things while they had disabilities examples including Louis Braille, Franklin Roosevelt, Jairos Jiri, Elliot Mujaji etc.
Upon carrying out the first ever National survey, on disability and health in 2013, It was discovered that one out of every thirteen Zimbabweans is living with a certain type of disability which means roughly 7% of the population are people living with disabilities. According to the Chronicles report 10 January 2017 only 18% of the people living with disabilities reach form 4, the main hinderances being financial constraints and discrimination.
On a positive note Zimbabwe can be applauded for being one of the first countries to come up with a disability specific legislation through the Disabled persons Act chapter 17.01 of 1992. However, the legislation needs support from the general public. There is also need to remove environmental and social barriers in order to overcome the problems faced by the disabled.
To achieve greatness, what people living with disabilities require from the government and the general public is not pity but understanding, neither is it custody but opportunity and instead of care what they need is acceptance. Thus, the government and the public should struggle not to reinforce self pity to people living with disabilities but should encourage them reset their vision and direction for life. Plenty of opportunities should be opened including empowerment programs, schools and scholarship programs adding to the already existing so as to uplift people living with disabilities and eliminate discrimination.
With open hearts, changed mindsets towards people living with disabilities, the government and the masses will surely attain extraordinary achievements.
By: Mercy Makono