Engaging young people with disabilities
Bulemazi is a collaboration between Podcam in Malawi and ZPHCA in Zimbabwe. The project aims at engaging young people with disabilities to build their capacity in leadership, lobbying and advocacy. There are eight participations in each round. The FK participants have different types of disability.
As a child, Memory Charumbira from Zimbabwe had to stay at home while other children went out to play. Because of her disability, she was never included. Through Bulemazi, Memory has gained recognition, motivation and self-belief.
- Disability is not inability
- The most important thing I've learned during this programme is that just because we have a disability doesn't mean we're not capable. I have come to believe that given the opportunity, we can perform equally well as able-bodied people. During our stay in Malawi we were privileged to meet colleagues with disabilities who are doing well in life. For example, we had a talk from Simon Munde, Programme Manager of the Federation of Disabled People Organization. This really motivated me and rekindled my belief that, indeed, disability is not inability.
Everyone has the right to education, but not everyone gets an education, as the FK participants discovered. Several schools did not accommodate people with disabilities. By mobilising educational authorities, local community leaders and parents, the FK participants managed to provide disabled children with access to education and wheelchairs. In addition, the everyday life of children with intellectual disabilities was improved by way of an awareness programme.
After the FK project, Memory wants to continue empowering disabled young people to fight for their rights, and to challenge attitudes in society that exclude a rather large group of its members.
An active and inclusive civil society functions as an important corrective to the authorities and is a prerequisite for democratic development. It is important to strengthen civil society as the driving force in achieving both national and international development goals. The Bulemazi project is a splendid example of the great resources that societies are missing out on when certain groups are excluded from development issues. It is often the case that other people speak on behalf of people with disabilities. The Bulemazi project allows these young people to speak for themselves.