The man, who could not be identified to protect the identity of the disadvantaged child, is among a number of husbands that are coming back to their wives in the suburb where the fortunes of women, dumped by their husbands years ago after giving birth to children with disabilities, are fast changing.
At least 26 parents of children with various forms of disabilities will soon own residential stands after their association bought land to accommodate the families, most of whom presently live in backyard shacks.
The families have for years been making monthly savings through the Zimbabwe Parents of Handicapped Children Association (ZPHCA), enabling them to raise US$15 000, which they used to buy a piece of land to be subdivided into residential stands.
Each member will own a 200 square metre stand in Harare’s Mabvuku suburb. These developments have resulted in some of the husbands who had run away coming back to their families after realising that their wives would soon receive residential stands.
“There is a man who had left his wife and five children, including their nine-year old child who is suffering from cerebral palsy (CP),” a ZPHCA official said. “The wife soldiered on, vending to raise money for her children’s upkeep and the association subscription. She is one of those who benefitted under this phase and her husband is now back home.”
The beneficiaries were hopeful that the initiative would bring relief to most members of the association as they were being discriminated against when looking for accommodation to rent.
“My husband left me and our three children in 1998 because of our 19-year-old daughter who suffers from cp,” 42-year-old Virginia Chirinda said. “At one point, I was promised a room for lodging with my family but when I went back with my disabled child the following day, the potential landlord told me she had no room for that thing, referring to my child.”
Speaking at a ground- breaking ceremony in Mabvuku last week, ZPHCA coordinator Theresa Makwara said members had been saving up for stands for several years.
“We started off as a big association with more than 100 members but we are down to 42 now because of various problems, among them lack of resources,” Makwara said. “Most people got discouraged when our Zimdollar savings came to naught but some of us soldiered on and that has finally paid off.”
Body caters for parents of the disabled
Formed in 1987, ZPHCA is an organisation of parents of children with disabilities. The Harare Province is the largest with a growing base of 23 support groups.
The association advocates for the rights of children with disabilities, especially in the areas of health, education, food, shelter, housing and recognition in the society.
Most of the handicapped live with cerebral palsy (PC), a condition which affects brain development and body functionality while others suffer from Hydrocephalus condition, which is a buildup of fluid inside the skull that leads to brain swelling.