Prisca Manyiwa-Masuku, H-Metro Reporter
People with disabilities have raised concern over exposure to the Covid-19 pandemic due to their different health conditions.
Speaking to H-Metro PWDs who live at Majaradha in Mbizo Kwekwe, expressed their fears about the pandemic and their limited ability to protect themselves against Coronavirus.
Most PWDs have poor accommodation not favourable to protect themselves against the pandemic. Some of them spend most of their time in the streets where they are exposed to the deadly virus and some of them are always exposed due to the nature of their disability.
The Majaradha home is comprised of 15 rooms where each family uses one room and they have a block of toilets that they share.
“I used to work in South Africa before this pandemic so when it started I came back home where I am struggling with my family.
“Our way of life is based on spending much time on the streets looking for food although nowadays it is not safe due to this pandemic.
“I always make sure that I wear my mask when going out to protect myself. I heard about the vaccine but I am hesitant to take it; there are so many stories about this vaccine such that I cannot take unless someone educates me about it,” said Lucia Ntabeni who is visually impaired.
Another woman who is also visually impaired expressed her fears towards the pandemic but professed ignorance of the vaccination program.
“My life has not been easy during the pandemic because I still have to fend for my four minor children.
“I cannot secure better accommodation for my family because most people do not want blind tenants at their houses.
“I am trying my best to protect myself and my family against Covid-19 but I do not have the courage to take the vaccine because of the stories I heard,” said the woman.
The secretary for the Majaradha home Gibson Mhosva explained how this pandemic has affected their lifestyle as people with disabilities.
“We have many families here of people with disabilities who have been affected economically and socially by this pandemic.
“Some of us fend for their families through street vending besides handouts from well-wishers so with this pandemic and the lockdown regulations the situation has gone from bad to worse.
“We try our best to wear these masks if we have them but still we are exposed because our life is on the streets,” he said.
Speaking during a virtual engagement with journalists, an activist for PWDs Soneni Gwizi highlighted the impact of Covid-19 on PWDs and she appealed to the media to support PWDs with media coverage so that their stories can be heard.
“Most of women who have disabilities are not formally employed so they were affected by the pandemic and the lockdowns.
“We have people with disability that cannot walk, who walk with their hands and those are the people that Covid-19 lands on.
“We have women who cannot wear masks, who cannot wash their hands frequently and as for maintaining social distancing it is a challenge for some of them who need someone close to assist them so they are exposed to this pandemic more than anyone else, ” said Gwizi.