In northwest Zambia, a group of disabled
people are starting their own businesses, and helping to end unemployment and
discrimination. Sanday Chongo Kabange reports from the mining
town of Solwezi.
Seven years ago, six of Solwezi's disabled
formed a group called "Pentagon." With the support of a Dutch cleric, Father
Pio, the group developed a business plan to help them support their
The six-man group
then acquired a room within the central business district of Solwezi. There, they engaged in tailoring, carpentry,
hand craft and arts. Before long, more
disabled persons around the Northwest region expressed interest in joining the
group. Today, membership has reached 600. Together, they're engaged in such activities
as knitting, tailoring, booking keeping, hand crafting and housekeeping.
The expansion has
brought about a name change -- from "Pentagon"
to "Holland Disabled Association." The14-room guest house is now
headquartered in a shopping complex. It
creates employment, generates money and supports the disabled.
Nigel Kachongu is the chairperson of association. He explains how the group is
using its infrastructure to assist the disabled.
"[If you're disabled]," he explains, "it's
very difficult to find money and run a business on your own. So we thought of
looking for able bodied people (to manage the shops) who in-turn employ a disabled
person so that dream of the disabled of running a shops does not die out."
top of that," he continues,"we have a fixed salary which that able bodied person coming into
the shop has to pay that disabled. After
that he (abled person) has to pay rent and that rent comes back to the disabled
(association) which we then use to take our friends to hospital, support those
in school and some members within the community."
plans to expand its operations and support disabled people throughout Zambia –
something that requires additional resources.
Mary Kanjanja Chulu
currently works as a cleaner at Holland Guest House. She has been a member of the association for
several years and explains that the association has assisted a lot of disabled
people around the North-Western area.
Chulu says being
disabled should not discourage anyone from realizing their dreams.
"I know God has
given each one of us talents," she says. "If we make good use of those talents we can be
self-reliant. If they (disabled) use their talents they [can generate an income
and] improve their [standard of living]."
and member of the association is Gilbert Mudidi. Mudidi, who moves on crutches,
is employed as Holland Guest House Supervisor.
He says he the association has helped him support his two children and
his entire family.
"The benefit for me
as a member of HDA (Holland Disabled Association)," he says, "is that at the end of the
month I am able to gain something, to live a better life. I am also able to feed my family,
and buy [what my parents need]."
There are an
estimated one-and-a-half million physically disabled people in Zambia. An additional three million are blind.
Membership in the
Holland Disabled Association is limited to those who are 45-years-of-age and younger. The association says it also helps older
people with their medical fees and provide them with training in reading