Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Malawi Commemorates International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The Ministry of Disability and Elderly Affairs and Federation of Disability Organisations in Malawi (FEDOMA) - in collaboration with FEDOMA affiliates, partners, and various other stakeholders –  joined the rest of the world in commemorating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDD) which officially falls on 3 December every year.

However, in Malawi, this event was commemorated on Saturday, 14 December 2013, in Blantyre. The commemorative activities were preceded with a solidarity march from Shoprite to Maselema, from 8:30 a.m., and were officially graced by the Minister of Disability and Elderly Affairs, Honourable Mrs. Rachael Kachaje, who was invited as Guest of Honour.

The main theme for 2013 IDD was “Break barriers, open doors: for an inclusive society for all”.

The IDD is observed internationally and has been promoted by the United Nations since 1992. The observance of the Day aims at promoting an understanding of disability issues and mobilizing support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. The 2013 theme augurs well with the Government and FEDOMA’s work in promoting awareness and promoting the welfare of persons with disabilities. 

About the 2013 Theme
The theme was proposed by the UN against the background that the UN General Assembly in the recent years has repeatedly emphasized that the genuine achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other internationally agreed development goals, requires the inclusion and integration of the rights, and well-being, as well as the perspective of persons with disabilities in development efforts at national, regional and international levels.

The  theme was also conceived amidst the concerns that as we pass the halfway point of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it is crucial for governments, donors, international agencies and civil society to address disability through the implementation of inclusive development strategies. Inclusive development recognizes all individuals as equal members of society who should be actively engaged in the development process irrespective of disability, age, gender, ethnicity or any other status. This is achieved by designing policies, products, services and creating environments that can be used by all people, including disabled people.

In Malawi, Persons with Disabilities continue to face a myriad of barriers that impinge on their ability to enjoy various rights and freedoms. Barriers include stigma and discrimination, lack of adequate health care and rehabilitation services; and inaccessible transport, buildings and information and communication technologies. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), disability is less about health and far more about social and economic barriers to inclusion. Poor sanitation, unsafe water, a lack of access to healthcare and malnutrition can all lead to disabling conditions.

The 2013 IDD, therefore provided an opportunity to engage businesses, organizations, companies and other service providers to go beyond the legal requirements to provide both physical and service accessibility to Persons with Disabilities.

The Solidarity Walk
One of the key activities that took place during the commemoration of the IDD was a Solidarity Walk that started from the Shoprite Complex in Blantyre at around 8:30 a.m. to FEDOMA office in Maselema. Scores of people braved the rains to join in the Solidarity Walk

Some of the stakeholders that participated included the members of the Disability People's Organisations (DPOs), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the private sector, Government representatives, and the general public.

The Minister of Disability and Elderly Affairs, Honourable Mrs. Rachael Kachaje, joined the march as Guest of Honour in the colorful event that symbolized the commitment of various stakeholders towards the achievement of the full potential and participation of Persons with Disabilities in all development activities.

The Speeches
After the Solidarity March was followed by a series of speeches at the FEDOMA complex. The Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Disability and Elderly Affairs, welcomed the participants from all walks of life who had come to attend the function. He expressed gratitude that despite the many challenges faced during preparations of the IDD commemorations which had earlier been planned to take place in Mzuzu but was cancelled at the eleventh hour, it was pleasing to witness how scores of people had persevered the rains that morning and joined the Solidarity Walk.

In his speech, FEDOMA Chairperson, Mr. Simon Munde, called upon the government and the society as a whole to promote the rights of people with disabilities as together they work for the better world that includes people with disabilities in developmental activities.

"It is everyone’s responsibility to make the society more inclusive in order for it to be called a better world for all. Even the bible says we are all equal in the sight of God," he said.

Mr Munde acknowledged that the DPOs were working tirelessly in lobbying and advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities in Malawi, but it very pathetic to see the conditions in which they were working. He said some hardly have funding for their work and others still cannot define their sustainability, hence the need for Government's support towards the work of DPOs.

He also acknowledged Government’s efforts in breaking barriers and opening doors for persons with disabilities through the Ministry of Disabilities and Elderly Affairs whichput in place policy and legislative framework for effective disability programming and provision of various disability-friendly services. In particular, we recognized the fact that the Government enacted the long-awaited Disability Bill in 2012 and subsequently gazetted the same in 2013.

He, however, noted that the struggle to promote the rights of persons with disabilities is far from won in Malawi as the Act is not yet operationalised for effective implementation.

Said Mr. Munde: "What we have done is just to lay the foundation. This is so because we recognize the fact that in Malawi what matters most are not just those beautifully-worded, juicy-sounding laws and policies, but it is, rather, the implementation on the ground that those of us advocating for disability rights are worried about most. For this reason, we believe that more consultations and dialogue processes aiming at operationalizing these policies is key to the actualization on the ground; hence we find this IDD commemoration as very timely; as being integral to these dialogue processes."

The FEDOMA Chairpersons further made the following specific calls:

(i) the Government and its key stakeholders must ensure that programs for the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) must also fully integrate persons with disabilities and their families;

(ii) all sector plans and national programs must include persons with disabilities, from conception to implementation, with appropriate budgets for human and material resources with which to enable access;

(iii) Education sector plans and whole school improvement approaches must be geared towards transforming mainstream schools to be inclusive, rather than opening more special unit classes; (iv) Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) must be expanded, strengthened and used as a service delivery model for persons with disabilities;

(v) disability service delivery performance indicators must be included in service delivery appraisals; (vi) a registry of children with disabilities must be created for each district and ensure that birth registration must be free and accessible;

(viii) mandatory screening for disability-causing diseases and impairments must be provided to pregnant mothers and children, in order to be able to provide appropriate medical care on time;

(viii) as per the law, the principles of universal access must be applied to all buildings and facilities, through the use of appropriate accessibility guidelines and standard design requirements for buildings; and

(ix) families and communities must be educated on simple, inexpensive ways to adapt their homes, facilities and everyday items to accommodate those with disabilities.

In her response, the Disability Minister, Honourable Mrs. Rachael Kachaje, assured the participants that Government was doing everything possible to mainstream disability in its programme, especially in ensuring that the law is operational.

She said among other things, Government would ensure that public places, including airports, were made accessible to persons with isabilities.

The Cooperating Partners
The Government of Malawi and FEDOMA took advantage of the commemorations to recognize and appreciate the support and commitment by development partners, local and international non-governmental organizations as well as civil society organizations, in addressing the challenges faced by persons with disabilities by making key social sectors accessible in the country.

In particular, FEDOMA acknowledged the moral an financial support towards activities marking 2013 IDD from the World Vision International (WVI), Christian Blind Mission (CBM), Water Aid, and Norwegian Association of Disabled (NAD).

The World Vision and Water Aid supported the of IEC materials including radio and TV programmes and averts, banners, T-shirts, and publication of press releases.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Chrissy's Untold & Scintillating Journey to Self-fulfillment!

My name is Chrissy Zimba. I was born on 15 September 1987 in a family of four children and I am the first born. I am working as the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at Mzuzu SMART Centre which is in partnership with Centre of Excellence in Water and Sanitation under Water department at Mzuzu University. I have a Bachelor of Science in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) which I obtained from Mzuzu University in 2012. 

My father was a primary school teacher and he passed away in 1999. Life started to become tough for me and my siblings as my mother was not working my father was solely the bread winner. We moved to my home District Mzimba boma from Ekwendeni.  My mother started doing small scale businesses and at times she would leave me alone with my siblings for about three months and I had to look after my siblings I was just 13 years old by that time and I was in standard eight.  

I wrote my Primary School Leaving Certificate Exams and got selected to Ekwendeni girls because my mother could not manage paying for my school fees, Mnjiri community day secondary school was another option for me. So I started my form one at Mnjiri in 2001. I did my first term and second term at Mnjiri then went in my mother’s home village Euthini for my second term holiday. And I did not go back in Mzimba Boma after the holiday ended and I just decided to finish my form one studied at a community day which was in the area.

My grandfather was a very hard working man. He would wake us up very early in the morning to start working in the garden. It was our custom that each day before we start doing our things like other household chores we should start by working in the farm. One fateful morning on Dec 4 in 2001 I woke up to start clearing the garden ready to start making ridges as we always used to do. After doing everything that night me with my siblings decided to pick mangoes before we go home and start doing other household chores.
I climbed a tree which was about eight metres high. As I was picking mangoes the brand which was holding my weight broke and I fell on my back. I didn't know what happened to me afterwards as I fainted after falling.  I just discovered I was lying on the ground at my aunt’s house and that everyone who was around at my village that time came to where I was laid down. 

After I asked my grandmother she told me that I was lying there for about two hours. I didn't know what happened because I just thought I had fallen from a tree. And that I broke something in back and thought it wasn't really a serious thing!  One thing that surprised me was when I tried to wake up I felt great pain in back so I knew I had broken my back! Another great surprise was that I wanted to put one leg on top of the other but I discovered I can’t move my legs. I got confused I didn't know what really happened!  I was taken to Euthini health centre which was about two kilometres from where I was staying. I stayed at the hospital (Health centre) for about three days. After the doctor realized that my condition was getting worse he referred me to Mzimba district hospital where it was confirmed that I broke my spine at T12 after they did an x-ray on me and then I was laid on my back on a hard board as part of my treatment for three months.  I developed very big pressure sores as a result of lying on the hardboard.  I was admitted for 3 months and then was referred to Mzuzu Central hospital.  

Two days after I was at Mzuzu Central hospital a certain physiotherapist from England explained to me what has really happened to me. She explained to me that I got injured on T12 and that I will not be able to use my legs. That tore me down. I had all the hope that after everything that the doctors would do on me I would be able to go back home walking. But to my surprise I got discharged on the wheelchair.

I didn't know what to do and I started question God why he let such a thing happen to me.  I cried upon hearing the news for two reasons:-

  1. How would I continue school as the school I used to go to was a day school and I was just 14 by then.
  2. As a young teenager to me life was full of fun and playing with friends.

Life started to become tough for me. When I got discharged in June  2002, I found my friends preparing for their Junior Certificate exams and I thought that was the end of me because I couldn't go to school on the wheelchair as the school that I used to go to was about a kilometer from home. My friends went ahead and wrote their exams and I just gave up on school and I thought to myself that was it. My future ruined. When I see my cousins and friends playing netball it would always tear me down as I liked playing netball before my accident. I would not easily accept life on the wheelchair as I missed a lot of fun!  As a result I ended locking myself in a room and wish I was dead!  

One day my teachers from my school came to see me  Mr. GVT Kumwenda (now REV) and Mr. Soko. They suggested that they would be borrowing me books and that I should start studying and register for my Junior Certificate exams in 2003. I started studying at home and one day Rev Nyondo came to my village after he got informed about me by my physiotherapist (Sheila Lawrence) who offered to pay for my Junior Certificate exams registration fees. During weekends my teachers would come home and help me with my studies. I wrote the exams and passed with flying colors! I realized I would still make it though I was on the wheelchair.  

The Malawi against Physical Disabilities people heard the news that I did well in my Junior Certificate Exams. I was their client so they decided to help me. Mrs. B. Ndlozi who was heading Map from Rumphi helped me find a place at Our Future PVT Secondary School in Rumphi and they were paying for my school fees through the Liliane funds. 

I went to Our future PVT secondary school and started my form three in 2004 I joined school in second term. Life was hard for me at the school as I had to battle with pressure sores. I got admitted at the hospital for about three months in the middle of my third term in my form three. I did not give up because I now realized that with God on my side no matter how tough the situation that I am found in might be but I knew I would always rely upon God and that HE will pull me through the situation. I wrote my MSCE and passed with 20 points. To me that was great because I considered all the times that I missed classes because I was down with pressure sores. The three months that I was admitted at the hospital because of the pressure sores. 

I applied for enrollment at Mzuzu University and I got selected in second selection unfortunately I did not know that I have been selected as I was staying in the village where when I don’t listen to the news on my radio because I don’t have the batteries I wouldn't know what’s happening in my country. 

So I registered for my PAEC Certificate in Financial Accounting at SIMARD then Skyways Business college in 2007. I continued to battle with pressure sores at Skyways as the hostels were in Mapale and I had to go in town for classes every day. I was also re-admitted at Mzuzu Central Hospital because of the pressure sores. 

I should salute my sister Modester who was always there for me. She pushed me to school each and every morning while she was also attending school herself by then she was in form two. I wrote the accounting exams and I was the only girl who passed the exams out of 8 girls and we were 20 all together. 

I decided to give it another try to apply for admission at Mzuzu University and fortunately I was selected to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Information and Communication Technology. Life at Mzuni was also challenging as most of the classes are not wheelchair friendly. Some of the places at this institution of higher learning are not really wheelchair passable. I still had to battle with pressure sores until third year of my studying at Mzuzu University. I finished my studies at Mzuzu University last year and I have a bachelor of science in Information and communication technology.

I should thank Mrs Jodi McGill as she helped me a lot through financial help and advice. She was always there for me. She would get me to the hospital when there was need to do so. Without your help Mrs. McGill I wouldn't be where I am today. You are like a mother to me. 

I should also thank Rumphi Map for financial support through the Liliane funds when I was at Our Future Private secondary school and Skyways Mr PB Chiyombo and Mrs B Ndlozi  you helped me a lot, Without your help I wouldn't be here today. I will be wrong if I don’t mention my friend Agrippa Mkandawire who was also there for me at Mzuzu University. Without you Agrippa life wouldn't be a fun at Mzuni. I also thank all my friends at Mzuni and my classmates (2012 ICT Class) who never got tired pushing me between classes. 

I thank Mzuzu University Administration staff for all the support you renderd to me the years I was studying at Mzuni. 

I thank my siblings:- Modester, Spencer and Kennedy for helping me and understanding my problem, you are a blessing to me. 

My mother is another person who tried hard to make it all happen. 

Above all I thank God who put the right persons in my life at the time that I exactly wanted them. for my studies to go well at Mzuni.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Meet Overtone: The Man behind the Malawi’s First Mikrocopter

Seeing a person with albinism in Malawi owning and driving a car in those days used to attract strange attention. However, this time around, it is not even a case worthy debating, as more persons with disabilities are fulfilling their dreams of doing well in life. Despite many challenges persons with disabilities in the world face, there are some who have excelled in socio-economic life. One of such success stories is a member of the Faculty of Environmental Science at the University of Livingstonia, Overstone Mkwapatira Kondowe.

He is an earth scientist with research interest in Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) technology. He is the man behind the first Mikrocopter / Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in Malawi.

He recently won the Livingstone bicentenary scholarship from the Scottish Government and UNILIA USA foundation to study Masters of Science in Environmental Protection and Management (MSc EPM) at the Polytechnic Constituent College of the University of Malawi.

After successfully passing through the doors of Domasi College and Chancellor College where he obtained his Diploma and Bachelors of Earth Science with credit respectively, Kondowe has previously worked as a secondary school teacher and research assistant in various institutions. He then picked up a job with the University of Livingstonia in order to accomplish his dreams.

Born with albinism in the family of subsistence farmers of the lakeshore district of Nkhota-kota in December 1978 was perceived to be both a curse and blessing to the scholar and the society at large. His deceased mother, Martha Kondowe, was surprised by nature for having a baby with non-pigmented skin. Due to lack of awareness and sensitization, both the family and community around offered no substantial explanation to the phenomenon of albinism in their midst. The family became a laughing stock. Interestingly, due to fear of unknown, his father changed his drinking habits and started companying Martha in doors as she could hardly persevere people’s scorn.

Besides, the visual power of the boy was low even to manage reading on chalkboard within a range of one metre. Had it been that there were no remedial lessons at home and help from classmates, chances are that the boy would not progress with his academic. In fact, besides showing inborn leadership skills, Overstone was also routinely on top of his classmates in terms performance.

When he reached secondary school, in Form One, he was appointed prefect and member of the then popular MBC school program top of the class. He finished his secondary education by passing the Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) exams with the highest grades.

He went to train as an electrical Engineer, then later as a secondary school teacher at Domasi College of Education where he passed the Diploma exams with credit. Overstone proved beyond limits as best geography and computer teacher at various government secondary schools in the Central Eastern Education Division. Unsatisfied, he went through the doors of the University of Malawi, Chancellor College, where he obtained an earth science degree with credit again. Thereafter, he was admitted in the field of research for the University of Malawi where he worked at the Centre For Social Research (CFR) and the National Statistics Office (NSO). 

In 2010, he got a job with the University of Livingstonia as a staff associate. He made numerous contributions to the college, including participating on the development of the current five year strategic plan of the college; the earth displacement detection project; the mining technology curriculum; and the UNILIA / Copperbelt University partnership; just t mention a few. He teaches earth and environmental sciences.

A master’s degree is a requirement for a lecturer this is why around June this year Overstone was one of the three lucky students at the Polytechnic to be awarded the Livingstone Bicentenary Scholarship from the Scottish Government. As this was not enough he was also awarded another scholarship from USA UNILIA foundation.

He has much interest in Geographic Information Science (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS). In his thesis he intends to demonstrate the use of his self constructed Micro kopter / Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in water point mapping.

Overstone is blessed with a handsome boy, named Promise, who is seven years old. However, he confesses that one of the most distressing challenges he has faced so far as a person with disability is discrimination by the woman he married which led to their separation in 2007.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Story of a Youthful Accountant, Scader Louis

My name is Scader Louis. 

I was born on 30th September 1981, in a family of 4 children and I being the only girl. My father, Ronald Louis Masanjala came from Msamati Village T/A Kalembo – Machinga and my mother, Nancy Mwalwanda came Lughali Village T/A Kyungu – Karonga respectively. They both died in 1993 and 1999 respectively.I grew up in Mangochi District where my father spent most of his working life.

I did my primary school education at St Augustine 3 in Mangochi. Later I went for my secondary school education at St Monica Girls Sec. School in the same district I was in form 2 when my mum died and things turned sour for me as there was no one to support my academic needs. Many thanks to the Sisters of Divine Providence, who through my teacher Mrs. Jean Ntaba offered to, take over the responsibility of paying for my school fees. I completed my secondary education in 2001 and passed my M.S.C.E with flying colors. I sat for the University Entrance Examinations in 2002 and was not successful. I always have wanted to become an accountant since I was a kid. I expressed my desire to study accounting to the sisters who refused to support me because I refused to join sisterhood. Since there was no one to support my tertiary education, I thought of getting a job so as to pay for my accounting course and also support my siblings whom then were staying with my uncle in Lilongwe.

I secured a job with World Vision Malawi on 1st June 2002, as a Customer Service Facilitator and was posted to a field office at Ching’anda in Makanjira 150 km from Mangochi Boma. My work in Ching’anda involved working a lot with people in the communities and I enjoyed interacting with them. However the distances from town made me have a huge desire to upgrade and get a better job. I then started making some savings from my monthly earnings to cater for my school fees in readiness for the 2004 Diploma in accounting MCA intake. 

In 2003, I was selected to study Bachelors of Education Degree at Chancellor College through a parallel programme which did not materialize as it required me to quit my job, a decision I was not prepared to take since my job was my lifeline and also taking into consideration that I had no other support financially apart from my job earnings hence, that opportunity passed.

In January 2004, I enrolled for a Certificate in Accounting Course at Malawi College of Accountancy. I was travelling over 300km every weekend thus crossing Lake Malawi on a boat and connect thru Chipoka- Salima to attend classes in Blantyre. My colleagues used to tell me that I was doing the impossible but for me it was indeed hard but at the same time worthy pursuing and I was determined to get what I wanted and thus the highest accounting qualification.

On 25th April, 2004  just 3 months after starting school whilst on my way back to Makanjira via Salima, at Lirangwe trading centre the minibus I boarded lost control after a burst of the front tyre.3 people died on the spot and some sustained injuries. We were rushed to Mlambe hospital where upon gaining my consciousness, I realized that I had completely lost a feeling of my lower limbs. I was later referred to Queens Elizabeth Central Hospital where an assessment revealed that I had broken my Spinal Cord and half of the body was paralyzed (Paraplegic - T12).

My life completely changed in a split of a second, from a beautiful ambitious young lady to a hopeless, helpless creature. The worst part of it was that I did not have enough information regarding to what had happened to me and expectations if any. I cried till there was no tear left, slept till I couldn’t sleep no more, thought of ending it all but saw how helpless I was because I needed help from someone even  to take my own life..For days my life was hell and I kept asking God numerous questions regarding my situation and why he allowed it to happen to me of all the people.

3 months after the injury, I gathered courage and asked my doctor to explain what had happened to me and if there was any chance of being on my feet again. My doctor told me that after the operation, Chances of walking again were not there. At that point I felt like I had stopped breathing because all along I thought my condition was temporal due to lack of information regarding Spinal Injury.

I very much thank my family members and friends who were very supportive during this time and gave me the much needed encouragement spiritually, physically and physiologically  My Organization did a very great job in making sure that I got all the necessary medical attention regardless of how much it costed.

My siblings looked up to me as a provider and it was extremely difficult for them and the whole family to see me in that helpless condition. Life went back to being a little child as I could literally do anything on my own. I relied on people to even ease myself. I lost my privacy and that made me more miserable considering that hours before I was doing everything for myself. I was so helpless that I needed help even to take my own life when I wanted to.

I must confess that I quickly started getting to accept my condition because of the love people kept showing me from far and wide. Much of being was changed because of the word of God which people kept sharing with me whilst in the hospital.

Slowly I began to realize that God was still on His throne and that he was very much aware of my situation and in His own time he will make all things beautiful for me. Realizing my helplessness made me depend and trust in God more than ever before knowing He was the only one who knew my tomorrow. I made tremendous progress in a few days through knowing who I was in Christ and that feeling significantly improved my physiotherapy response.

The accident happened when I was in a relationship with a guy and we had dated for close to 5 years. As far as I was concerned, he was my world and during this time I kept telling myself that I was going to fight the battle ahead of me because the feeling of having him made me stronger. Whilst I was at Kachere Rehabilitation Centre, 3 months after the accident, a colleague told me that the guy was dating another woman after I complained to her that he was no longer visiting me. 

My world crushed and i lost all the little progress I had made that far. I could not find answers as to why he did that because 2 days before the accident we were together having fun and nothing made me think for once that all that was not real. It took some time for me to come to terms with what had happened and wishing he could come and tell me that all this was a lie but he never did. I later started collecting the broken pieces of my heart and assured myself that maybe that was how God wanted things to be and I needed to be much stronger and take in the two truths (disability and being dumped) without questioning knowing God was still in control.

I was discharged in October 2004, and went to stay with an aunt at one of the townships in Blantyre. The organization asked me if I was interested to work as an accounts assistant in the regional office since I had already started pursuing an accounting course. I did not take time even to think about it, and gladly accepted and went back to work in November 2004.I had not fully recovered, but I insisted getting back to work just to keep busy and mix with people once again.

Adjustments were done to the office building so that it should be accessible. A vehicle was assigned to be picking me to and from the office. Working in a finance department brought back my accountant ambitions and I started thinking beyond my disability. I then thought of declaring my interest of going back to school to my immediate supervisor. He was very happy and management agreed to sponsor my education including a provision for transport so that I could easily to pursue my studies.

I enrolled for a Certificate in accounting course again in the January 2005 intake and started my weekend classes at PACT College.

The experience at the college during the first days was discouraging. It took time for the school management to make adjustments for me to access some of the classes. I quickly made friends and by the end of my first semester I was in an environment which made me feel at home. Little did I know that my going back to school would make other disabled persons think of the same. In the second semester, I was happy to see 3 disabled students at the college.

 God kept giving me more strength each passing day, and I completed my Diploma course in June 2006. In July 2006, I started my professional level and in December 2010, I completed my course and qualified as an affiliate of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and currently im finalizing processes of becoming a member of ACCA.

Currently i'm working as the Regional Financial Analyst for World Vision Malawi.

In 2011, I was amongst a few selected individuals who were trained by Motivation African – an organization that helps people with mobility disabilities to become a Peer group trainer. This initiative changed my life so much as I started interacting with people who have challenges like mine and it opened my eyes to a wide range of issues that people with spinal injuries must take into consideration in looking after themselves lest risk early death. These issues include; bladder, bladder and skin care As a trainer, im involved in organizing and training my peers during camps which are funded by Motivation Africa and also conduct talk sessions at Kachere Rehabilitation Centre.

Im also a co founder of the Spinal Injuries Association of Malawi. Currently im serving as its Publicity Secretary in the interim committee which is steering the registration of the association.

Accepting my disability changed my life so much. Becoming a disabled woman has taught me quite a lot in life. I have learnt to value every human being knowing God has a purpose for everyone despite of what they are today. I also learnt to be humble and rely on God in everything trusting He can still change my being. I decided to make my life useful whilst waiting for that miracle. The biggest challenge has however been the fact that you have a disability and that you are a woman. This means you have to prove to the world that you can still do things. Nature has made human being to judge others by how they look and that makes it difficult for them to realize that persons with disabilities  can effectively contribute to the development of this nation if given a chance.

I thank God that this far I have learnt to do most of the things independently.Im looking after a family of 9 and I its amazing seeing people grow up and that makes me stronger and realize that God’s ways are not ours.

My story is incomplete without expressing my heartfelt thanks to the following for making me who im today.
First and foremost to God Almighty for giving me the strength and bringing me closer to Him, to World Vision Malawi family for the love and support, in particular Mrs Marion Chindongo for being such a caring mum in times when I needed one, My in-law Dr Carol Kanyighe for taking good care of me and to my family and friends too numerous to mention. I see myself very tall whilst on my chair because of what I have achieved this far and plans ahead.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Provisions on Economic Empowerment

Persons with disabilities suffer from discrimination throughout the world and are frequently excluded from social, economic and political processes in their societies. Disability was long considered an individual problem that was treated from a medical and charitable viewpoint, but neglected in terms of equal rights for persons with disabilities. Attention is now turning towards the impact of the legislation on employment opportunities for people with disabilities as well as on economic empowerment. This question is central to the broader social and political rights of persons with disabilities, which are closely linked to their economic empowerment.

The goal of inclusive development is to enable all people to have equal opportunities when it comes to partaking in the economic and social lives of their communities. The socio-economic integration of persons with disabilities is not just a question of their right to participation; it is also a prerequisite for broad-based and sustainable pro-poor growth. According to a World Bank study in 2000, the annual loss in global GNP due to the large number of unemployed disabled persons is estimated to be between 1.37 and 1.95 billion U.S. dollars.

Recognising the crucial link between equity, disability, and poverty, in 2002, the World Bank embarked on mainstreaming disability into Bank operations and analysis. In 2006, the UN adopted the International Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and many governments and international development agencies are turning their attention to the goal of including persons with disabilities in development. The International Labour Organization (ILO) promotes meaningful and gainful employment under conditions of freedom and equality for all men and women with its decent work concept. In this framework, it is also committed to the rights and concerns of persons with disabilities and supporting their socio-economic integration. As shown by an ILO study in 31 countries, persons with disabilities have so far hardly been involved at all in the design of national development programmes and frameworks.

Furthermore, income-generating measures are used to promote the social and economic independence of persons with disabilities, with a view of strengthening their societal participation and helping them to realize their right to a decent standard of living and economic status.

In Malawi, according to the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities Bill, the Government is obliged to recognize the importance of empowering persons with disabilities economically, without any form of discrimination. As such, under section 32 the Government shall ensure that persons with disabilities access technical, vocational and entrepreneurial training opportunities; loans and credit facilities for income generating activities; and open and self employment opportunities.

Any person who contravenes the above provisions shall be guilty of an offence and liable, in the case of an individual, to a fine of K100, 000.00 and to imprisonment for five years; or in the case of a body corporate, to a fine of one million Kwacha; or any other measure the court may deem appropriate to redress the situation.

Provisions on Culture, Sports, Recreation

Participation of persons with disabilities in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport is one of the key provisions in the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities Bill. This provision is also enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to which Malawi is a signatory.

For instance, the Convention, under Article 30, clearly stipulates that States Parties should recognize the right of persons with disabilities to take part on an equal basis with others in cultural life, and to take all appropriate measures to enable persons with disabilities to have the opportunity to develop and utilize their creative, artistic and intellectual potential, not only for their own benefit, but also for the enrichment of society. States Parties shall also take all appropriate steps, in accordance with international law, to ensure that laws protecting intellectual property rights do not constitute an unreasonable or discriminatory barrier to access by persons with disabilities to cultural materials.

In addition, with a view to enabling persons with disabilities to participate on an equal basis with others in recreational, leisure and sporting activities, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to encourage and promote the participation, to the fullest extent possible, of persons with disabilities in mainstream sporting activities at all levels and to ensure that persons with disabilities have an opportunity to organize, develop and participate in disability-specific sporting and recreational activities.

On the other hand, the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities Bill specifically stipulates that the Government shall take appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy access to cultural materials such as television programmes, films, theatre and other cultural activities, in accessible formats. Government should also ensure that they enjoy access to places for cultural performances or services, such as theatres, museums, cinemas, libraries and tourism services, and, as far as possible, enjoy access to monuments and sites of national cultural importance.

To ensure, therefore, that the aforementioned obligations are fulfilled, the Bill further persuades the Government to develop national norms and standards for public sports and recreation facilities. The Bill even demands that Government should develop national guidelines and criteria for the inclusion of sports for persons with disabilities in national sports development programmes. The Government shall also, in its national housing programme, take into consideration housing requirements of persons with disabilities by providing persons with disabilities with equal access to secure land tenure, housing, finance, and property rights and ensuring disability friendly institutional housing.

According to the Bill, any person who contravenes the above provisions shall be guilty of an offence and liable, in the case of an individual, to a fine of K100, 000.00 and to imprisonment for five years; or in the case of a body corporate, to a fine of one million Kwacha; or any other measure the court may deem appropriate to redress the situation.