Since last year the Anglican Alliance has been scoping out the challenges facing people with disabilities, and how we, as a church community could best respond to their needs. The initial stage of this work included a field visit to Mayukwayukwa refugee settlement, located in Western Zambia. There we had the opportunity to carry out focus groups discussions and interviews with refugees who had fled the conflict in Angola.
The majority of people that we encountered had been victims of landmines or were shot or injured while running away. Another considerable group were affected by age-related conditions. This reflects the age profile of a community that has grown old in exile in Mayukwayukwa, which was set up in 1966.
There is a great need for adequate prostheses, since amputees are forced to use rudimentary coping devices that make everyday activities and life difficult. They do not have sufficient food and there is lack of facilities and accessibility to programmes.
There were cases with more profound disabilities that require priority attention, not only the person but also the carer. Once more, the critical link between Gender Based Violence and disability was evident, in particular, women and girls who are an easy target for abusers.
The next step of this initiative will explore the challenges facing people with disability during and after natural disaster emergencies.
This mission would not have been possible without the very generous support of the Church of Zambia and the UNHCR.