Intellectually challenged youth in Harare have a place to get training so that they can become independent, self-sufficient and more socially integrated individuals.
Located in Southerton, the Zambuko Workshop (ZW) is one of Zimcare Trust’s centres that provides such training. Here over 30 intellectually challenged youth over the age of 18 receive training in woodwork, gardening, poultry and metal work.
When Harare News toured ZW, there were five girls, occupied mainly in the kitchen, while the men worked on coffins or in the garden. The coffins project in woodwork was started in June 2011 with the Mayor’s Christmas Fund, sourced by community response coordinator Bonny Woodman.
ZW manager Justin Makombe says orders come from funeral parlours and other shops for carpentry work. The income raised from coffins and surplus produce from the garden is used for supporting the shelter. However, the organisation faces challenges such as transport to ferry either the raw material to the workshop or the finished product to market.
“The coffins projects do not help the shelter enough, we still need to be boosted in material for woodwork,” said Makombe.
To raise additional funds they lease some rooms in their complex to manufacturing companies. This helps to generate support for the youths in the shelter. Now Makombe said the trust needs resources to start a chicken project which will be a further source of revenue. He says donations to start the chicken project have not been forthcoming although pledges have been made.
Woodman has been helping the ZW since 1987, particularly by providing opportunities to play sport. She also organises Christmas parties for the workshop every year. She brings clothes, food and gifts to the centre. “It’s so humbling to see them so grateful for so little. They are so happy to receive,” she says.
“If it was not for Woodman we would be having bigger problems than we experience,” Makombe said. The organisation is providing an excellent grounding for the boys, as they are able to take part in sporting activities during their spare time. Among the youth, Rodney Mandibaya, the woodwork instructor, plays golf with Royal Harare Golf Club.
Others have been given opportunities to increase their future livelihood options. For example, Victor Luwaca had the chance to attend a one day training programme in October at Intwasa Pfumvudza, Feed Your family Training. He says the training has strengthened his farming skills, which he feels makes him more employable.
The intellectually challenged are supposed to pay fees to acquire the woodwork and gardening skills at ZW but some of the parents fail to pay. Makombe says the parents are calling for the government to chip in and pay for these disabled people.
Section 2, 4.31 of the Constitution on Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that the State must take appropriate measures to ensure that disabled persons realise their mental and physical potential.
Makombe says, however, that government money has not been in line with the constitution and this has affected payments which are supposed to be issued to the intellectually challenged. “We plead with government to give us per-capita grants in time so we can run the shelter,” he added.
The government is supposed to pay per-capita grants each month. In the years 2009 and 2010, the government payed the per-capita grants only twice. In 2011 and last year, those at ZW did not receive per-capita-grants and this year they only received grants for January and February.
To support this project, call Justin Makombe on 0772 750 621 or Bonny Woodman 0712 745 523.