The First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe admires the beading skills of Shidin Evison at the Childline stand during commemorations of the Day of the African Child in Harare yesterday., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Afford equal opportunities to the disabled: First Lady
Saturday, 16 June 2012 18:08
THE First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe yesterday urged society to desist from discriminating
against people with disabilities, saying they should be afforded equal opportunities like their able bodied counterparts.
She said this at commemorations to mark the Day of the African Child in Harare under the theme, “The Rights of Children with Disabilities, the Duty to Protect, Promote, Respect and Fulfil.”
“Disability, as has been stated is not inability.
The challenge we face as society is to rise above the stereotype person with disabilities we have been conditioned to believe in.
“However, far from being cases or object of pity, those who live with disabilities have different skills, talents and capacities which we only get to know when we listen to them more carefully and take an active interest in their lives,” she said.
Amai Mugabe said children with disabilities faced a lot of challenges that included exclusion from education, employment, cultural activities, sports, sexual abuse and other social events.
“The World Health Organisation estimates that only 33 percent of children with disabilities in Zimbabwe have access to education, compared to over 90 percent for their able bodied populace.
“This alone must surely shake our society from its apathy and encourage a more positive view towards these children,” the First Lady said.
Amai Mugabe said the welfare of children with disabilities should be the collective responsibility between Government and civil society.
“The fight for children with disabilities has mainly been a preserve of the civic society with minimal support from Government.
“It is my considered view that this responsibility must be collective and all stakeholders should pool their efforts together in order to formulate actionable strategies to ease the burden of children with disabilities,” she said.
The First Lady, who is also the matron of the Danhiko Project, said she had embarked on the construction of a Children’s Home in Mazowe as a contribution to the challenges facing children.
“The Children’s Home and ancillary facilities at Mazowe are the result of a vision I was blessed with in the late 1990s. Over the years I have faced setbacks, doubt and financial challenges but the vision would not die.
“I am thankful to the Almighty who has sustained me throughout. The work at Mazowe is my modest contribution to the children of this great nation God gave us,” Amai Mugabe said.
She said it was important that the various plans and concepts that have been drawn up to improve the plight of disabled children should be put to practice, adding that as a person she believed in action.
Various activities and displays were on exhibition by children with disabilities from various institutions.
The Day of the African Child was first commemorated in 1991 to mark the Soweto massacre of school children by the South African Apartheid regime on June 16, 1976.
The school children were protesting against the racist policies in the education sector.
Yesterday’s ceremony was attended by Government officials including Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere and co-Minister responsible for the Organ on National Healing and Reconciliation, Mrs Sekai Holland.