For the past month or so i have been thinking of the woman in this article and i keep asking the question does she have a place in the Zimbabwean society? To summarize the story she had a child with a disability and before her husband went AWOL he had put pressure on her to kill the child as condition to stay married to him.
I am asking what shall become of her child when the father abandoned them? What shall become of her as a mother as a woman? She is currently unemployed and there is no-one who can look after her child if she was to get a job. I am not in any way saying that having a child with a disability screws you up for life certainly not but the thing is the Zimbabwean society is so not accepting or understanding of people with disabilities. In this case all the man had to do was do right by his wife and child ie stay and look after his family but the fact that he asked her to kill the child means rather implies that he did not want a child with a disability.
This story really hit home for several reasons. Besides the fact that i have a disability, i keep wondering had that been my mother what would have happened to me? What would have become of me? I too could have been abandoned by my father BUT he did not. He loves me just as i am, i am his little girl. He is crazy about me. This story really hit home for me because i have a friend from primary school in this exact situation.
7 years ago this friend gave birth to twins, unfortunately one of the babies passed away. The one who survived was born with cerebral palsy. The father of the child denied paternity of the child and as a result she is left to look after her son on her own without any assistance from him not even a dollar to buy diapers. To make matters worse her own mother does not even love her grandchild. In fact she will hold all her other grandchildren yet for him. When i was last home, the situation was so dire that when she was working, she had to hire a maid to look after her son because no-one in family would look after her child whilst she was at work. In the end she had to quit her job because she no longer could afford the maid.
So does society have a place for these two women with children with disabilities who have been abandoned by their fathers? Does the extended family sit down and speak to the father to look after his child or that child is viewed as being cursed, bewitched or a burden? Does my friend have a place in society when her own mother does not show love to her own grandson because of his disability? In such times her mother is supposed to be her strongest support system but instead she is also part of the discriminatory team. She could be the one looking after the child whilst my friend goes to work and at the same time, the father of the child should also be doing his part in raising the son.
I am pleased to announce that both women do have a place in society. Despite the fathers of the children abandoning them to be raised by their unemployed mothers, there are support groups available in Zimbabwe for mothers of children with disabilities. Here are some of the organissations i found online. (I am always amazed at what i find online with regards to organisations working with PWDs in Zimbabwe).
“During every trip to Zimbabwe, we support the mothers of disabled children directly. Whether it is by donating clothing, medical supplies or items as simple as a bottle of sun cream to stop albinos getting severely burnt by the sun.”
“Batsiranai Mothers Group, located in a poor, highly populated township in Harare, Zimbabwe, is a women’s artisan group that creates embroidered and painted fair trade handicrafts for the international market. The members of Batsiranai are mothers of special needs children. In Zimbabwe, children with disabilities and their families are often shunned not only by society, but by their extended families as well. This social isolation and the lack of community often cause the families to spiral into extreme poverty.”
“To work towards realisation of equal rights and inclusion of children with disabilities and their families in Zimbabwe.”
“Mobilize parents of disabled children to participate in the activities of their brand. To assist parents to build their capacity in meeting the challenges faced by their children.”
Knowing that there are organisations such as these four makes me believe that mothers of children with disabilities do have a place in our society. Even though some may have been abandoned by their husbands, boyfriends or families, it is still good to know that there are people who care enough for them to start organsations dedicated to helping them raise their beautiful children.