Misconceptions, myths and negative attitudes are the major barriers hindering people with disability from participating fully and effectively in their communities on an equal basis with their peers, says Development Aid from People to People (DAPP)programmes co-ordinator Mr Petros Muzuva.
Speaking during the training of councillors and traditional leaders in Bindura and Shamva on disability issues, Mr Muzuva said some of the myths and stereotyping are rooted in traditional and religious beliefs.
He added that some people believed that disability was a result of bad luck, avenging spirits and superstition.
“The objective of the training is to ensure that our traditional and local leaders mainstream disability issues,” said Mr Muzuva.
“Myths and misconceptions have resulted in some parents and guardians of PWDs being ashamed of letting them go out in public or taking them for rehabilitation. Together we can remove barriers and raise awareness on issues affecting PWDs with an inclusive understating of having their rights being accorded.
“Our objective is to see committees of PWDs being created starting at ward level. The intention is to have a holistic approach when we discuss issues of development. PWDs should not be left out in community development, hence the need for their participation in developmental meetings.
“During registration of PWDs we compiled information in Bindura and came up with a total number of 718 people with disabilities across all age groups. Three hundred and seventy-seven of the 718 are between the ages of 15-35, which is our target group in the programme dubbed Youth Actions on Implementation and Monitoring of Disability Rights in Zimbabwe funded by the European Union.”
“Councillors are the ones with people on the ground, we need to come together and unite regardless of our political affiliations,” said Chief Musana.
“Let’s go back to our wards and teach people of the correct terminology when referring to PWDs. The most important thing is to teach people that we are equal. As traditional leaders we have already started including PWDs in everything we do.”