Home » General » Disability Is Not a Barrier

When I lost my sight in May 2008 at the age of 25 years due to a medical condition, I immediately found myself living in a different world. I could no longer see the colours of the rainbow, or enjoy a sunset, or see birds flying across the sky.

My window to the world had been shattered, and I found myself living in total darkness. My journey as a person with a disability and growing up in an orphanage has been interesting, exciting and also extremely challenging.

It takes an individual to accept his or her condition before the society can accept it. It also takes the community to stop feeling sorry for people with disabilities as this actually makes their disability a barrier.

As society we think disability is a curse! Yes, it’s a condition that limits one to certain things.

For example, a lot of buildings and facilities are not disability friendly, limiting one’s access to them.

Employment is limited.

Many companies will not hire a person with disabilities not to mention the stares and whispers they get as they walk down the street.

So in a way, I would say people with disabilities are only disabled because society gives them disabilities by not providing them with access.

Helen Keller who was deaf and blind said “I’d rather not have sight, than have sight and have no vision.

“I don’t want society to be sorry for me!”

In my life, I have always sought to push myself and challenge myself beyond my blindness.

In the short time I featured in a television drama series called “Simuka upenye” with the likes of Mai Sorobhi and went on to do a Counselling crush programme with Connect Zimbabwe.

That same year, I received a one year full scholarship to the International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs in Kerala, India.

After those exciting journeys I met up with my vision which is to empower the blind.

I like the definition of a leader which says: “A leader is someone who has faced a certain challenge in their life and has overcome it and wants to make the change.”

I have since registered a trust called Shine on International Trust.

The project hopes to bridge the gap between the able-bodied and those with disabilities.

We have programs that include computer training, information sharing on how HIVAIDS affect the blind, sporting programs, and aocating and consulting on issues on disability in health, education and empowerment.

As a so-called “person with disability” nothing stops me from moving forward despite barriers to accessibility and resources I possess.

In December 2012 I was a delegate representing people with disabilities at the UN African Youth Conference on The Post 2015 Millennium Development Goals.

Back home, I voluntarily present and produce a 30min show “Shining Star” on Star FM.

The programme helps people to get out of dark corners, identify their passions, talents and goals and motivates communities to support people living with disabilities.

In June 2014 I was part of the Mandela Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Fellowship program and travelled to the USA.

I was based at North-western University in the field of Business and Entrepreneurship. Among the 25 fellows I was the only one with a disability and other fellows learnt on the abilities and capabilities of people with disabilities.

I went on to a presidential summit for three days in Washington DC were I shook hands with Barack and Michelle Obama.

I could never have dreamt of this day if I did not have a vision.

Today, Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Day of People with Disabilities under the theme “The Promise of Technology” which focuses on the role that technology has in improving the lives of people with disabilities.

Even though I am visually impaired, I wrote this article thanks to technology. I can also send and receive texts and many other things due to technology.

I don’t believe people have a disability-we are only physically different to able-bodied people, and that’s what makes the difference.

If you thought we have disabilities then I guess you need to start thinking and look at things differently.

Tafadzwa Nyamuzihwa is the Founder and Director of ShineOn Organisation. For comments and contributions email: tafadzwa@shineonafrica.org.

Source : The Herald