By Clayton Shereni

A home away from home! What else can we call it?

The haven which houses Children and Adults with Disabilities (CAWDs) is providing a fortress and safe space to the marginalized community of Chivi.

Currently catering for 321 CAWDs in what was once a forgotten district in Masvingo province, Chivi Stimulation Centre brought a ray of hope and light at the end of the tunnel for many families that were been burdened by the need to cater for CAWDs.

In a community situated in the ecological dry region 5 which has low food output during the farming season, many families have found succor at this amazing daycare Centre.

The project is being implemented with support from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare in collaboration with UNICEF with funding from the Government of Sweden, (Government of Norway) Norad, and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation working with implementing partner Zimbabwe Parents of Handicapped Children Association (ZPHCA) covers five wards in Chivi namely; Ward 15, 17, 23, 26 and 30.

Stakeholders who spoke to this publication during a tour of the facility and some households that are benefiting from the project appreciated saying the Community is forever indebted for being remembered at a time they had lost hope.

ZPHCA director, Ronald Mazango is a happy man who feels UNICEF has abetted them with life-changing skills that are being taught at the Centre.

“Through support from Unicef, we hold capacity-building meetings, peer support and entrepreneurship skills. We also go to communities and teach them about disability parenting,” said Mazango.

Some of the skills being taught at the Centre include; weaving, basketry and sewing. They also produce doormats, reusable pads, jam and sweets.

For a healthy lifestyle, the Centre has many skilled workers including a physiotherapist, nurse and a mental health specialist.

These help the CAWDs in undertaking physical exercises, medical needs and also offer psycho-social support to parents and guardians.

Lillian Joni a mother of 10 and has one child (Tracy Madhiji) being helped at the Centre said the support they are receiving is helpful and her child is showing great positivity.

“At first I thought it was just one of those programs that come and go but I have since realized that this is a very helpful initiative. My mind is at peace because of the consistent assistance we get from here and since we started coming here my child has shown great improvement in her physical movements,” Joni said.

Tracy Mabhiza a field officer told Centre News that they are targeting to spread their wings in the district and other marginalized communities as they seek to bridge the gap in social inclusion. “So far we are operating in 5 districts here in Chivi and the response has been tremendous. The support we get from UNICEF and government is incredible so we hope that we may continue to grow and cater for as many children and adults with disabilities as possible. Rural and marginalized communities are in dire need of this kind of support and we have committed ourselves to helping them,” Mabhiza said.

ZPHCA operates in 9 provinces serving thousands of children across the country.

The organization has previously received support from UNICEF through its Child Protection Fund.

Recently UNICEF received a major boost after the Swedish government released close to US$6 million towards their Child Protection Fund programs to avert social injustices being experienced by children in Zimbabwe.