Life is improving
By GLADYS CHANDA
My name is Gladys Chanda from Luangwa Township, just outside Kitwe, in the copperbelt in Zambia. Since the last time I had my blog published for about a year ago, a number of good and interesting things have happened to me.
One of my dreams has always been to support myself through good work, and I liked tailoring. So with the money I earned from previous blog entries and other work, I was able to enrol for a tailoring and designing course at Bwafwano community center here in Luangwa. The program lasted for 6 months.
It was a very nice course in that, I learnt to design and tailor different things. The knowledge I have acquired will definitely enable me to create a sustainable income. With this knowledge I am able to make school uniforms for boys and girls going to school. These I am going to be able to sell to the parents of these children. This will generate a reasonable increase in my income compared to what I earned from the cassava and groundnuts that I used to sell. With this income I will be able to rent a house with adaptive toilet and water. That will be a great improvement for us. Today I have to pay small boys to get water for me from the nearest water pump. The well is 500 meters away from where I live.
Continues advocacy work
With the local organization Disability Support we have continued our activities of doing Drama advocacy at market places. As I already told you in my first blog, we do this to sensitize the community about our rights as persons and citizens with disabilities. It is exciting to note that people’s attitudes towards us have started improving and the levels of stigma and discrimination have been considerably reduced. This means that our advocacy work is paying off and with increased visibility we also become more included in our local society.
Our organization is currently implementing an HIV/AIDS prevention program. We have done several activities with this program, we have had Voluntary Counseling and Testing, but most of all we underwent training as peer educators to teach other disabled people on HIV/AIDS. I was lucky to be among the 20 people that were trained.
Sex, HIV and destructive myths
We will be going into different communities to teach disabled people on how they can protect themselves from contracting HIV/AIDS. I am so glad that I will also be part of the efforts towards creating a better world which is aiming for zero infections of HIV/AIDS. Disabled people even here in Zambia are seen as people without a sex life. But worst of all; disabled people are all victims of deadly myths. For example one says that if a person who is infected with HIV/AIDS has sex with a disabled woman he immediately gets cured. This has led to many disabled women in communities to be victims of rape.
We are also hopeful that as the world is striving for zero infections of HIV/AIDS, disabled people will also achieve this. One can only imagine how hard it can be to be HIV positive with a disability with no access to clean water and proper sanitation.
At the moment I have the tailoring knowledge, what I don’t have is a machine to enable me start this business, which is going to help me a great deal and help me upgrade my life. So getting one is a very important next step.
Interpreted and written by Julien Mwape Zimba