Compiled By George Mwika Kayange
In an effort to mainstream disability rights in
all government institutions, local communities and within the
society at large, the Federation of Disability Organizations
in Malawi (FEDOMA) courted the District Executive Committee
(DEC) in Mangochi and Mzimba in 2010. The meeting targeted
DEC members comprising of various stakeholders working in the
two districts such as Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs),
Community-Based Organisatons (CBOs), Faith-Based
Organsiations (FBOs), and Government ministries and
|A cross-section of the
participants during the interface meeting in Mangochi
FEDOMA Executive Director, Mr. Mussa
Chiwaula, said disability mainstreaming was important because
disability is a cross-cutting issue that affects all sectors
“People with disability are affected by
water, employment, housing and many other things. A person
who is not disabled today can be disabled tomorrow,” Mr.
Mr. Chiwaula appealed to DEC members to
treat employees who have disabilities with dignity, as they
also have human rights like any other person and to ensure
that the working environment for people with disabilities is
conducive. He pleaded with the authorities to construct a
ramp at the entrance of the hall in which the meeting took
place in Mangochi.
In response, Director of Public Works in
Mangochi District, Mr. Henry Mwamvani, expressed regret that
the venue was not disability friendly and he assured FEDOMA
the ramp would be constructed without delay.
we are the ones who are selfish. We fail to understand them
He, however, said despite the isolated
shortcoming, it was pleasing to note that a new disability
policy was being implemented in Mongochi to have all the
buildings in the district easily accessible to persons with
“All new schools and teachers’ houses
which are being built in Mangochi are disability friendly,”
During the meeting, one of the
participants noted that the negative attitudes towards
persons with disabilities has been hampering progress towards
mainstreaming disability issues even within the DEC itself.
Mr. Wanja Njaidi, Labour Officer in
Mangochi District, said society has a tendency to view
persons with disabilities as a nuisance to society. He said
most of them are perceived as difficult, naturally.
"But i have a different view myself. I
think it is not the people with disabilities who are
difficult. It is us, the society,” said Mr. Njaidi.
Meanwhile in Mzimba District, FEDOMA
organised a series of meetings with chiefs to raise awareness
on disability issues within their communities.
This was part of the organisation’s programme to mainstream
disability rights in local communities and within the society
at large. The first meeting took place at Edingeni Teachers
Development Centre (TDC), while the other gathering was held
at Embangweni School for the Hard of Hearing.
Addressing the chiefs at Edingeni,
Mr. Chiwaula, said chiefs are key in ensuring that the rights
of persons with disabilities are guaranteed in communities,
particularly in enhancing their participation in day-to-day
|A cross-section of the
participants during the interface meeting in Mzimba
"It’s for this reason that FEDOMA would
like to establish lasting relationship and cooperation with
you, the chiefs. We know how important you are in your
communities due the authority that you already command," he
Mr. Chiwaula encouraged the chiefs to
include capable persons with disabilities in the Village
Development Committees (VDCs). Group Village Headman (GVH)
Musangula Ndolo hailed FEDOMA for raising awareness among the
chiefs on some of the issues affecting persons with
disabilities which they often take for granted.
"It is true that a lot of persons with
disabilities are being left behind during, for example, the
distribution of fertilizer coupons. But not much was being
done to address the disparities on the part of chiefs. This
meeting has, therefore, been enlightening to us," he said.
Primary Education Advisor (PEA) for
Edingeni Zone, Mr. Triemore Luhanga, said the chiefs would
play an important role in ensuring that many children with
disabled are sent to school.
"There are lots of children with
disabilities in the villages who don't come to school. I am
so positive that this meeting has motivated them (chiefs) to
take a lead role in identifying these children and
encouraging their parents and guardians to send them to
school," said Mr. Luhanga.