In the advent of HIV and AIDS, people with disabilities who are part of vulnerable populations have no specific programmes that address their needs. A survey conducted by Jairos Jiri Association revealed that people with disabilities have a number of sexual and reproductive health and rights issues that are not very uncommon. Firstly, they desire to have children like any other human beings, they have challenges with access to reproductive health services and they suffer prejudices by service providers and communities. One gentlemen with disability once said:
No one truly represent us, people look at us, want to come near us not because they care, but they want to see how deformed we are….. If they could have it their way, they would put us in a Zoo, so they can come and watch us crawl, try to walk or try to sit.. and wonder or say to themselves… how disabled that one is….
The challenges faced in fulfilling the people living with disabilities’ needs include negative health staff attitudes, inadequate social support, cost of accessing services, environmental, legal, socio-economic and socio-cultural norms that discourage health seeking behaviour. People with disabilities also suffer from restrictive laws. This is in tandem with a study conducted by Mpofu in 2004, which indicated that, about 3 million (90% of the total school-age population) attend school in Zimbabwe. Of these, there are 14 115 students with mental retardation, below average level of intellectual functioning, usually defined by an IQ of below 70 to 75, combined with limitations in the skills necessary for daily living. About 50 000 children have learning disabilities, 1 634 children have hearing impairment, reduction or defect in the ability to perceive sound and 2,635 students with blindness or visual impairment.
Jairos Jiri Association was founded in 1950 by the late Mr. Jairos Jiri and has various centres such as schools, vocational training centres and homes for the education and welfare of People With Disabilities. The core business of the organisation is to assist, treat, rehabilitate and educate persons with disabilities. Jairos Jiri Association has identified 1 099 children with disabilities who are not at school and referred them to school. Some of the chidlren required wheelchairs, crutches and hearing aids to allow them access to school, to which they were also given. The main objective was to improve the literacy level of people with disabilities. The improved literacy level for people living with disabilities does not only increase their chances of employability but also allow them to be able to articulate their rights as well as demand them.
There are many people who are also visually impaired. They have heard about HIV, but they have never seen anything about it. Braille has not managed to inform everyone as it is limited to a few. They deserve to be informed, so they make informed choices. As of now they make choices based on what someone says it’s a good choice, they may need to see the options to understand them. To help a person who is visual impaired read about HIV or a person who is wheel chair bound visit the nearest clinic, you can contribute to the important HIV work that Afrikagrupperna supports! Buy the Red Ribbon from our gift shop.