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Stelia chats with Precious Mkomo of DZT PHOTO: Samuel Chibaya/IM

How DZT is unmasking disability misconception

Published 3 September 2018

Motherly love is manifested in many ways but when manifested through tears, it becomes an emotionally loaded story, like that of Mdambakale Gedion, mother to 16 year Stelia in Zimbabwe. The two stay at Mufakose, outside main Harare. Deaf Zimbabwe Trust, IM's partner in Zimbabwe is supporting children and communities to unmask misconceptions on isability.

Mufakose, a densely populated area is one of the oldest   suburbs of capital Harare. Stelia was born here, while young, she crawled later and couldn’t even speak.  One day, she cried and the cry was so strange. “She cried like an unknown animal” said her mother. She could cry like a strange animal.    
   
And when some members of the community heard her strange cries, they poked fun at her and the mother. Some even dared told quizzed her “are you not afraid of the way your baby cries, she cries like a strange animal?” Mdambakale was torn inside. As if not enough depression, Stelia spent most of her early days hospitalized. 
  
“It was a tough time for me,” recalled Mdambakale, and as if adding salt to the wound, “When Stelia fell sick, the father would just say this is your child.” As we talked in her house,  Mdambakale couldn't hold back her emotions but shed tears as she sat next to Stelia. It was at that moment, I realized that sometimes, tears and words best describe how you love someone. Throughout the discussion, Stelia was playing apparently oblivious of the ongoing discussions. 

Mdambakale recollected herself and we continued the chat. She told me, “God is really amazing, when the father died the Stelia never fell sick again. In spite of the disabilities, Stelia is now enrolled at Mufakose One High School. And how the mother embraced Stelia as her daughter speaks volumes about an intervention by Deaf Zimbabwe Trust (DZT). 
 
Some people at Mufakose just like in Chitungwiza, also frown at people with disabilities. As such IM partner DZT is running a project in these two areas where they are holistically tackling disability.      
DZT helped people to form psychosocial support clubs where they share experiences and skills and learn what disability is and how to live with it.   

“I also learnt skills in sewing and tailoring. I then teach other women the same skills so that we can generate money to run our families.” The club also helped them learn sign language for improved communication with their children.  

“Today, my daughter loves speaking continually, she also loves playing with her fellow children. I think she is making up for the lost time she couldn’t speak,” indicated Mdambakale. I couldn’t live Mufakose without interacting with Stelia- epicenter of the story she told me that she loves a hit song in Zimbabwe called Mdhara Vachauya done by Jah Prayzah. The song roughly means “Dad is coming” Stelia burst into dancing as she firmly held on to a cellphone and sang alone the song. Stelia is such a wonderful girl, affable and Mdambakale’s only child.

Mdambakale recalls her daughter's troubled past PHOTO: Samuel Chibaya/IM

Precious Mkomo of DZT demonstrates sign language PHOTO: Samuel Chibaya/IM