Restoring dignity for people living with disabilities

4 Feb 2014   |   Blog   |   Zimbabwe   |   Long-term Development

Tags:  disability   |   No comments

Marshal at the toilet block

Marshal Samuriwo, 28, from Gavanga village in Marondera, Zimbabwe, feels his hope and dignity have been restored thanks to the integrated community development program implemented by our partner, Caritas Harare.

The middle child in a family of five, Marshal lives with a disability and requires a wheelchair. In August 2012, his community selected him to receive a toilet facility built especially for his needs.

Marshal told his story to Caritas Harare Field Officers, Kuitakwashe Nhongo and Jabson Tarubona:

“When I was a baby, my mother passed away, so I was brought up by my stepmother. She was poor and life became difficult for her to take care of my needs. She had to take me 300m away from home to go to the toilet,” he said.

“I was sent to stay at Jairos Jiri children’s home in Harare. This was for people living with disabilities. The quality of life there was much improved compared to my home village. At Jairos Jiri, caretakers helped me whenever I needed ablution facilities and I was also given education assistance up to grade seven.”

“After finishing grade seven, I was sent back home but life became difficult again. In 2001, I enrolled for secondary school in Chinhoyi at Alaska Mine, where I did my studies up to form three. However, there were no user-friendly facilities designed for people living with disabilities, so this was difficult too.”

Without proper facilities, and facing discrimination from some, Marshal dropped out of the school in 2003. Two years later he decided to study leather craft at Ruwa Skills National Rehabilitation Centre, with the aim of finding employment and earning an income. However, he was unable to find a job and so returned to his home village where he now lives.

In August 2012, Marshal was selected to receive a latrine, which was constructed close to his house. He can access the latrine in his a wheelchair without any assistance, and  now feels safe going to the toilet at night, rather than having to go in the bush. The latrine also ensures there is no chance the village’s water supply will be contaminated by mistake.

The program has benefited Marshal and his community in other ways: borehole rehabilitation has improved access to safe water, reducing travelling distances for women, children and people with restricted mobility; health and hygiene education has improved the community’s health; and conservation farming training has improved crop yields.

Marshal’s family now has three meals a day instead of two, and he is planning for a better future.

“With my skills in leather craft, my hopes for the future are to get equipment and materials so I can do my own work or gain a decent job that will earn me enough income to meet my family’s needs,” Marshal says.

Marshal’s story shows that the provision of a simple facility – in this case a disabled toilet – can allow a person living with a disability to focus less on overcoming daily issues, and more on gaining greater independence. It also shows how the benefits can flow throughout the person’s whole community.

This program is partly funded by Australian Aid through our ANCP Partnership.

Find out more about Caritas Australia's work in Zimbabwe

This story featured in our Annual Report 2012-13

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