'Persons with disabilities shouldn't be treated as charity cases'


President Dr Lazarus Chakwera has emphasised on the importance of giving Malawians in general and persons with disabilities in particular skills that can enable them earn a livelihoods thereby contributing to the country’s development.

Chakwera made the remarks at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on Thursday during the inauguration of the 2022 Malawi Council for the Handicapped (MACOHA) Flag Week. 

The President, who bought the first flag at K2 million, said the world is dynamic and is changing all the time hence Malawi cannot afford to give its people skills that cannot earn them a living.

“The true spirit of our national vision demands that persons with disabilities be given an integral place in all aspects of our development as a nation be it in the design or delivery of that development,” he said.

Chakwera: Persons with disabilities  should not be treated as charity cases

He, therefore, expressed commitment to ensuring that any prosperity that Malawi experiences as a result of government’s efforts to manage and build a robust economy that creates wealth are tailor made and suited to circumstances and capacities of all citizens.

As such, the President said as a nation Malawi must maintain the momentum in advancing equity for persons with disabilities.

“It is not my aim to have persons with disabilities be treated as charity cases. Our approach is to transform what are often marginal survival activities for vulnerable people by treating them as productive citizens with great potential. Our approach is to base our policies on human dignity not charity,” he said.

Deputy Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Agnes Nkusa Nkhoma said government recognises the importance of providing better opportunities to its citizens including those with disabilities thereby sustaining government’s determination of leaving no one behind.

“Given the opportunity and adequate resources, persons with disabilities can participate fully in the social economic development of the country and become part and parcel of the Malawi 2063 agenda,” she said.

MACOHA Board Chairperson Prof. Chiwoza Bandawe described vocational skills as important for everyone, especially to persons with disabilities, because it empowers them to be independent and be able to contribute to development.

“When they are empowered with vocational skills, they are able to work and to have a sense of dignity,” he said.
However, he expressed concern that the Council is not reaching out to more persons with disabilities due to challenges such as low coverage of Community Based Inclusive Development and inadequate vehicles for both administrative and operation needs.

The 2022 MACOHA Flag Week which runs from 17 to 25 November and is being held under the theme ‘Vocational Skills Acquisition: Means for Empowering Persons with Disabilities’ targets to raise K60 million for vocational skills. 

Every year MACOHA observes flag week to raise awareness on disability issues and promote awareness among stakeholders on the need to play a respective role in levelling the playing field to equalise opportunities for persons with disabilities.
During last year flag week, MACOHA managed to raise K6.8 million which was used to train 60 persons with disabilities in various vocational skills in Karonga.