Women with disability share success stories

The Chronicle

Angela Sibanda, Chronicle Reporter

WOMEN with disability are changing the narrative and taking up opportunities to advance in life. King George V1 school and centre in partnership with a non-governmental organisation Disability in Development and Services (DDS) last Friday celebrated women with disabilities who have made significant achievements in different sectors.

Former female students of the institution and other women with disabilities shared their success stories and how they have managed to overcome the challenges they faced.

Participants follow proceedings during the comemmoration of International Women’s Day at King George VI School recently

March 8 has been set aside as International Women’s day and the whole month is regarded as women’s history month.

Ms Michelle Madau, a businesswoman, makeup artist and arts manager shared her story of how she was inspired by the Special Advisor to the President on Disability Issues and former Bulawayo mayor Dr Joshua Malinga to acquire her own car and learn to drive despite her disability.

“I was inspired by former Bulawayo mayor Joshua Malinga.

He was driving and I approached him and asked him how he managed to drive with his disability.

He told me to come and see him the following day and after I did, my life completely changed,” she said.

Ms Madau said Dr Malinga helped her buy her car using savings from her hairdressing business.

She is managing a thriving company that aims at grooming, supporting and managing female artists.

“I am a CEO and founder of a company called DIVAs Ink (Divinely Inspired Victoriously Anointed). At Divas Ink, I manage female artists here in the city.

I took up the opportunity because I wanted to break the barrier because the music industry, especially the management, is male dominated worldwide.

I told myself that I want to mentor female artists and assist them to make a living out of their music.

Ms Tariro Gurure

I am managing a number of local female artists and some of them are award winners,” said Ms Madau.

Apart from her company, she is also employed at a local clothing manufacturing company.

“I have an eight to five job which I love so much.

I am a secretary for a leading clothing manufacturing company in Bulawayo and I have been with the company for 14 years now and I still love it,” she said.

Ms Madau said life has taught her that disability is in the mind as it has absolutely nothing to do with someone’s physical appearance.

She said women with disability should be able to run their own homes and do things without having to seek help or allowing their disabilities to get in the way of what they want in life.

“Many people with disabilities always have the pressure to look for helpers yet we should learn to do things on our own.

Like any other woman, I run my own life. I don’t have a helper and I do things in my home the way I want them to be done.

“My office is situated at Haddon and Sly building in the CBD, there are two flights of stairs to it and every day, I climb them.

I didn’t let my disability limit me to get the office because it was the only thing available when I acquired it,” she said.

Another woman living with a disability, Ms Sukoluhle Mhlanga said she went through a lot of stigma during her childhood and school days but instead of breaking her confidence, the challenges that she faced motivated her to aim to be a leader and participate in decision making in the community.

“During my primary education, I was transferred from King George V1 school and I went to learn at another school in the western suburbs.

During that time people had not embraced living with people with disabilities and it was really difficult but I managed to ovecome the challenge.

“The challenges that I came across inspired me to be on the lookout for leadership positions.

I became a disability inclusion practitioner.

I work with organisations whose mandate is to enhance the livelihoods of persons living with disabilities.

I am studying development studies at Lupane State University.

“I am also a representative for people with disabilities in the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA).

I recently got an opportunity to represent Zimbabwe in Ethiopia at an African leadership forum and I might be travelling soon.

Disability is not an inability and as people living with disabilities, we should make sure that we take part in everything, there should be nothing for us without us,” she said.

Another young woman, Ms Rosemary Zhira, who is living with a hearing impairment said at first she did not take education seriously because she thought there was no room for success for people with her condition.

As she grew older, Ms Zhira started envying other people’s good lives and that pushed her to acquire skills so that she could also live better.

“I used to be very playful at school.

When teachers were pushing me, I used to hate it.

I really did not see the need to be serious because I just thought I would just finish school and stay home.

One of my friends told me that life is hard after school.

“After my exams I used to see my age mates in the neighbourhood smartly dressed and I envied it but I could not manage to buy things for myself.

I then started attending skills training and learnt sewing.

Now I am into clothing business and hairdressing, I am however still trying to grow in the industry because I have dreams that I want to achieve.

I don’t limit myself on the things that I do and I am grateful to everyone who gave me the opportunities that drove me to where I am today,” said Ms Zhira.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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