Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe Trust – Â is a nonprofit organization working towards the creation of equal opportunities for children and youth with disabilities. The organization started operating in 1981 and it is a member of the Leonard Cheshire Disability global alliance. The vision of Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe Trust is to create a society in which every child and youth with a disability can enjoy their rights, and has the opportunity to fulfill their potential.Â The main mission of the organization is to enable youth and children with disability to improve their quality of life and to campaign for removal of the barriers, which hinder them. Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe Trust has also expanded its focus to include adults with disabilities in its programming.
A visit to Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe Trust resembles a school setup with various activities taking place. Disabled children engage in rehabilitation exercises under the guidance of trained teachers as well as livelihoods activities.
Operating in 8 of the 10 ten provinces in Zimbabwe, Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe Trust is currently rolling out an Inclusive Education Programme which promotes the enrolment of children with disabilities into mainstream schools rather than sending them to special schools. In its effort to create equal learning opportunities for children, the organization has embarked on an adaptation of a school environment initiative which has resulted in the building of ramps, toilet facilities, classroom and water sources for children with disabilities. Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe Trust has also provided useful devices like walking sticks, wheelchairs, and hearing aids to disabled children. Sometimes they also assist with the payment of school fees.
Under its Advocacy Programme, Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe Trust actively participated in the constitution making process in 2013, campaigning for the rights of disabled people in Zimbabwe.Â The organization has also assisted with the translation of the ratified Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into vernacular languages.
Under the Access to Justice Programme, the organisation has been working with local courts to enable abused people with disabilities to access services like sign language interpretation and other related disability services when going through court processes. In addition they have participated in building ramps at courts for easy access by disabled people who use mobility devices.
Disability does not necessarily mean inability and Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe Trust has shown that people with disabilities can also share employment opportunities with able-bodied people and participate fully in livelihood activities. One such initiative is the collaboration between Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe Trust and a local electronics manufacturing company in making electrical surge protectors.
The organization has also provided soft skills training to disabled persons on how to run income-generating projects before issuing them with small loans. The project has also produced wonderful crafts in the form of shopping baskets and jewellery.
Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe Trust has had several major achievements recently and among them is the Access to Justice Program, which enables disabled people to receive fair treatment in the legal system. Being the pioneers of inclusive education in Zimbabwe, and having enrolled close to 1500 children with disabilities in mainstream schools is another significant achievement. Efforts by the organizationâ€™s Young Voices Programme were instrumental in campaigning for the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the Zimbabwe government in 2013, and having the rights of the disabled people included in the new constitution.
There is a lot that this organization can be proud of!
picture credit: www.kubatana.net/