At the age of four, the energetic, able-bodied and promising young Courage Mambingadya’s fate transformed for the worst.
By Gumisai Nyoni
In April, an operation of a growth on his trachea turned nasty, rendering him paralysed. The heart-rending ordeal is still hard to swallow for his parents — Chipo Samoyo and Jeremiah Mambingagdya — who since then, are relying on well-wishers to be able to fend for their now 18-year-old child who spends all his time sleeping on a sofa at their residence in Chitungwiza’s Nyatsime suburb.
It is such cases that the MP for Zengeza West, Simon Chidhakwa, said government needs to institute legislation that facilitates support for people living with disability.
Speaking at a ceremony where Princess Tilly Faith Foundation (PTFF) founders Tilda Chibanda and Nyasha Nhau donated wheelchairs, crutches, groceries and clothes to the Mambingadya family and other people with disabilities in Chitungwiza on June 23, Chidhakwa said: “For a government to be called good, it’s only determined by the way it looks after its people.
“Special cases like these must be diagnosed to determine the degree of damage. As legislators, (we say) government must look after them. Legislators must push for a law that supports people with 100% disability. It is important for parents and guardians of these children to get funding from government. ”
The MP also said it was critical for the country to have special schools for disabled children, adding that most of them were suffering marginalisation in the current set-up, where they learnt with able-bodied children. This, he added, should be buttressed by special training of teachers who cater for such critical situations.
“Someone like Courage needs special care, including changing his pampers and keeping him clean, as well as safe from other opportunistic infections. Special treatment can only be attained when there is special dedication to train teachers and create conducive environments for people living with disabilities. The already existing institutions are expensive and beyond affordability for many. Social welfarism should be a priority in government, not sloganeering.”
Asked if his appearance in support of PTFF didn’t risk being labelled a political gimmick, Chidhakwa said: “wouldn’t it be a failure to let people suffer just because elections are fast approaching?”
Speaking to The Standard Style at the presentation, Chibanda said: “I believe if these children are given love, support and care, they can showcase their God-given talents like able-bodied persons.
“As a model, I got the opportunity to move around the country, where I realised there was still discrimination against people with disabilities, that is when I decided to establish a foundation that advocates the rights and issues related to disability.
“That is exactly why we interact with our political leaders, for them to communicate pragmatic issues in parliament; hence the presence of this constituency’s MP [Chidhakwa].”
Nhau, who is also living with disability, but deified odds to contest the forthcoming general elections as an independent councillor in Chitungwiza, said: “The disability constituency has not been taken seriously as the women and youth constituencies.
“I think there should be a ministry for the disabled, headed by someone living with disability. That person is likely to understand challenges affecting his or her colleagues. For example, many politicians and government representatives visited Courage here in Nyatsime, but did nothing to tackle his problem. That is why we took it upon ourselves to let him get a special wheelchair so that he feels comfortable.”
From the donation, the Mambingadya family, among other beneficiaries, hope for a new and better life, not hopelessness, which had become their accepted reality.