Family members are the main drivers of stigma against children born with disabilities and this is responsible for the rising number of disabled children without a home or a proper support structure in our communities.
This was revealed by Rachel Ziki, the founder of Kudakwashe Children’s home in Stoneridge which takes care of disabled children who are abandoned by their parents and families. Speaking to State of The Nation news, Ziki said all the children that are being taken care of at her children’s home were abandoned and dishonoured by their parents due to stigma from immediate family members who fail to accept the children for who they are.
“At Kudakwashe Children’s home, we are taking care of 24 children who are differently abled. We took them in after seeing that they are not loved by their parents and families. Most of these children are born from young parents who fail to come to terms with the stigma they face. So we have created a home where such children are received and given the love they truely deserve,” said Ziki.
She said parents and families that have disabled children require a lot of counseling for society to accept them as most of the stigma they face is informed by superstitions and ignorance.
“Families who receive disabled children require a lot of counseling if we are to get rid of stigma. Before we accept a child at our home, we first give counseling to the parents and I have seen it working to some who return with their children after I counsel them. Those who chose to leave their children here even after receiving counseling would have endured a lot of resentment from their families, and I believe such cases require specialized counseling from Family level down to the child’s parents,” she said.
Running a home for disabled children has not been an easy task for Ziki as she faces challenges ranging from financial constraints, a small staff to cater for the immediate needs of the children and medication to constantly treat some of the children who are suffering from celebral palsy (CP) . But her love, passion and desire to give love to abandoned children has managed to see her through.
“Running a home like this has many challenges. Disabled children require special attention to take care of them. Those who cannot walk require wheel chairs which we are short of. We have children who are suffering from C.P who require pampers and medication regularly. All these challenges require finances and a good staff of care givers. But our passion and love for these children has enabled us to see them through.
“Our small chicken and garden projects have enabled us to get some finances to sustain. I also have a small ECD school where I use the proceeds to support this home. If our financial capacity increases, we will be able to take in more children. We also have well wishers who give us assistance in times of need,” she said.
When asked if the parents of the children are playing a role to support them, Ziki said they do not even call or visit to show concern for their children. “ I always reach out to the parents of these children especially when they fall sick. But they don’t even visit. There was an incident when a child (name withheld) was admitted at the Hospital. When I called the parents to notify them, they asked me why I was concerned about their child when they themselves had lost hope. I was heartbroken by their lack of care. But I try by all means to give them the love their deserve, “ she said.
After hearing her story from the media, Alfred Dondo Foundation run by Impala Car Rental visited Kudakwashe home on Friday 22 October this year to donate groceries, toiletries and other essentials to assist them. Impala Car Rental Group Brand and Projects Manager Tracy Ngoma said their foundation was moved by the home’s desire to give love and care to vulnerable children which is in line with the organization’s values.
“We heard about Kudakwashe and we were moved to come and assist with our donation. We hope that the gift we brought today will assist greatly in running the home. I would like to say you are doing a wonderful job in taking care of vulnerable children which is in line with our values. As Alfred Dondo Foundation, we are taking care of 65 vulnerable children from Chikomba District, some who are disabled and others who are orphans. So we want to applaud you for the work you are doing because it takes a selfless heart to love and care for vulnerable children,” she said.