About 104 Malawian children with disabilities are banging heads at their first-ever national conference that seeks to see how best to promote disability inclusion through role modelling for such persons.
World Vision, a charitable and humanitarian organisation has drawn children with hearing, seeing, talking, walking and albinism challenges from area programs across the country.
This comes amid increased cases of killings and abductions of persons with albinism, which have seen 22 killed and 67 others abducted, according to statistics from Malawi authorities, Amnesty International (AI) and United Nations (UN).
The children, within the age bracket of 4 and 17, are being grilled as to how government and other stakeholders are doing to ensure their health, education and physical nature is safeguarded.
World Vision Malawi’s Director of Communications, Advocacy, Justice for Children Naile Salima told the gathering that panelists are due to present life examples as to how they have excelled by making what people think inabilities to be abilities.
Give children with disabilities space to plan what they want to do and achieve. The conference will also chart the way forward as to what activities should be implemented by government and other stakeholders aimed at ending challenges they face,” said Salima.
The national conference is taking place in Kasungu, central region district in Malawi where issues of killings and abductions were also reported. In this district, which also borders Malawi and Zambia on the western side, one child and a lady with albinism were killed this year. Their assailants are on remand.
Nationally, statistics show that, 23 persons with albinism have been killed and 67 others reportedly missing in Malawi. The incidences of killings and abductions came into the limelight through the media in 2014 barely months after Tanzania had reported the same in its country.
One of the child participants to the conference from Nkhoma-Chilenje in the administrative capital Lilongwe wants government to improve education for children with disabilities like those with albinism.
“It will be important if government protects our rights educationally because as it is we seem to be neglected. Secondly, our colleagues with albinism should be protected too by dealing with killers and attackers,” said Zamadenga.
UN has on the other hand warned that Malawi’s estimated 10 000 albinos face “extinction” if they continue to be murdered for their body parts.
But government remains upbeat about dealing with the challenge. Speaking during the conference, chief disability and awareness officer in the Ministry of Gender Juliana Mabangwe said parents should have a passion to educate their children regardless of the challenge they have.
She said the conference has come at the right time when government has also introduced a life imprisonment for killers of persons with albinism.
“Most of the time people look at children with disabilities as useless people, they think they cannot perform and they perceive them as dull people. They can have limitations, but they can perform once given the right needs such as education,” she said.
Mabangwe added that as government concerned parties should take good care of their children through empowerment of different forms for them to grow up with an independent mind.
Recently, a row broke out between advocates of death penalty for killers of persons with albinism and human rights activists. Activists think it is against human rights norms to kill not matter how grave the crime could be.
Police and other human rights organizations are still conducting district awareness campaigns aimed at mitigating killings and abductions of persons with albinism.
While some suspects have been convicted what remains unclear is that bones of persons with albinism can make one to become rich.