Describing his life changing moment, Robert Mapuvire is proud of the lesson he got on disability inclusive parenting which enabled him to treat his child differently after years of depriving his daughter, Delight of her rights as she is disabled.
“It has been 23 years of abusing my daughter because of ignorance; we would always leave her out on many things, even house chores as we did not even see it fit to get her a birth certificate and national ID like our other children but through learning we have been conscientized on the rights of the children living with disabilities.
“We would just ask her to sit in one place, never bothered on whether or not the weather will affect her because we thought she is disabled (akangoita muZIMCARE) and will not be affected by it,” said Mapuvire.
The programme has however enabled Mapuvire and his family to understand their epileptic daughter’s condition which they had always thought was witchcraft.
“Through meeting various stakeholders including health professionals and the Social Welfare Department who have taught us about disability we are now aware that it is not witchcraft as we had always thought because of ignorance (taingoti kana mwana akavhiringidzika toti kuroyewa uku).
“I am most grateful to our teachers, my daughter’s well-being has improved a lot, she can sweep the yard and do the dishes as we have also learnt to take her along when doing other duties like farming and we have witnessed that there is a great improvement,” said Mapuvire.
Tracy Mabhiza, the field officer for the project said there are instances of sexual abuse of children living with disabilities with most of the cases going unreported.
“Parents usually do not to report cases of abuse because most of the perpetrators are not outsiders but family members, so they cannot report because at most these are breadwinners in the families where these children come from,” said Mabhiza.
The project which is a brain child of Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social welfare in collaboration with UNICEF with funding from Government of Sweden, Government of Norway (Norad) and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation working with implementing partner Zimbabwe Parents of Handicapped Children Association, was implemented in August 2022 and is carried out in five wards in Chivi.
Zimbabwe National Association of Mental Health (ZIMNAMH) National Director, Ignatius Murambidzi said the project was meant to capacitate parents of children living with disability.
“The project was meant to build the capacity of the parents of children living with disabilities to be able to take care of their children and for children to promote their mental wellbeing which is why we have partnered Zimbabwe Parents of Handicapped Children Association so as to be able to reach out to the children as both have so many unmet mental needs,” said Murambidzi.