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Disabled US-based Zim student shares experiences
July 18, 2013
exemplifies how people living with disabilities have made notable
achievements in the face of many challenges, among them discrimination.
As the first disabled Zimbabwean student on a full scholarship to
the U.S., Energy has demonstrated that ‘disability does not
mean inability,’ proving that people living with disabilities
can be self-reliant and top achievers.
born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, often called Brittle Bone Syndrome.
It is a genetic disorder characterized by bones that break easily,
often from little or no apparent cause. He has never been able to
a Food for Thought discussion held at the U.S. Embassy’s Public
Affairs Section at Eastgate, Maburutse relayed how he had been viewed
as a curse when he was born. “When I was born, people thought
my mother had done something wrong, they associated it with witchcraft,”
he said. The discussion was attended by representatives from a variety
of institutions that work with people with disabilities, and members
of the general public. “With all those controversies, my mother
was a very big umbrella protecting me,” recalled Energy who
is study Communications and International Relations at Lynn University
in the US.
national and international headlines when a documentary film about
the band in which he played lead marimba, Liyana, won an Oscar (or
Academy Award), and another documentary about the group of musicians
with disabilities, IThemba, swept top prizes at film festivals in
Still, he explained
that society was not yet inclusive of people with disabilities,
and has recently been conducting awareness workshops across Zimbabwe
with support from the US Embassy. The outreach program hopes to
change attitudes about disability and empower people living with
is not perfectly prepared to deal with people living with disabilities,
they will always treat you like a beggar. You need to be a different
person. You have to ask yourself, ‘what do you have to offer
in the society that will make people respect you?’ he said.
“You go into a bus and they ask you, ‘Do you have a
letter from Social Welfare?’ when you have your own money
to pay for your fare.”
findings by the National
Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH),
about 2% of people living with disabilities are employed in the
public sector and about 7% overall in Zimbabwe. “For us to
have a higher percentage of people living with disabilities employed,
it takes personal courage, just yourself telling yourself that you
are just a person,” said Energy.
Energy, a graduate
of the United States Achievers Program (USAP) is currently studying
Communications, Media and Politics and International Business at
Lynn University in Florida in the United States. USAP assists talented
students from disadvantaged backgrounds to negotiate the application
processes to some of the top universities in the US.
on the recently passed constitution in Zimbabwe saying it was representative
of the rights of the disabled, because it accounts for the rights
of everyone. “I do not feel that disabled people are excluded
in the constitution because as it says equal rights for all human
beings. I have already included myself since I am a human being.
Why then do you ask if the constitution views us as a people? You
are already discriminating against us.”
he attributed some of the challenges disabled people face to the
fact that government had failed to support acts relating to disability
issues. “Government has failed to support acts to do with
people living with different conditions. Buildings are inaccessible,”
he said, citing an example. “We went to the City Council and
we noted that all the building plans they had did not have any ramps.
They don’t consider people who are visually impaired or with
hearing impairments,” he contested.
to the discussion, Lewis Garaba, Secretary General of the Zimbabwe
National Paralympic Committee, noted that it was time people living
with disabilities took matters into their own hands. “It is
time for us to look at the source of our problems. Our buildings
are inaccessible – let us go and look at the city’s
bylaws, lobby the government… rather than have a situation
that we continue to talk about. We should look at it from an empowered
point of view, because it is not us only who need ramps, but other
people like the elderly.”
On May 27, 2013,
the Lower House of parliament completed the process needed for the
ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons
with Disabilities (CRPD). Civil society organizations in Zimbabwe
and networks of people living with disabilities. A disability expo
is being held between July 17 and 19 to raise awareness on the rights
of people with disability, under the theme: “Empowering and
Mobilising Society to Create Sustainable Livelihoods for People
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