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First Lady speaks for disabled children

ESTHER

KAPALA CHISUNKA, MUNIDE ZULU, Lusaka
FIRST Lady Esther Lungu has called for concerted efforts in addressing challenges affecting children with disabilities.
Mrs Lungu said children with disabilities constitute one of the most marginalised and disadvantaged groups in society.
Speaking when she officiated at the launch of the Education Outreach for Children with Disabilities (EdOCD) programme in Lusaka on Friday, Mrs Lungu said children with disabilities are often barred from participating in socio-economic activities of the country.
“Too often, children with disabilities are made to feel like they do not count. They are made to feel like they do not have anything to contribute to the development of the country. This attitude is a dis-service to the children, to their families and our country,” she said.
Mrs Lungu said EdOCD was founded on the philosophy of creating a community that is knowledgeable about the rights of children with disabilities through awareness and education as well as building capacities among such children, especially those living in rural areas.
“Children with disabilities and special needs are dear to my heart. Children with disabilities deserve special love; they have something to contribute to the world if given a chance. They are beautiful and dear to God,” she said.
She said estimates have suggested that there are about 93 million children with disabilities in the world adding that numbers could be higher, especially for countries like Zambia which was still struggling with comprehensive data on disabilities.
“Children with disabilities face discrimination, negative attitudes, lack of adequate policies and legislation and are often excluded from accessing health care, education and realising their dream. It is true that often children with disabilities are among the poorest population,” she said.
Mrs Lungu said there is need to mobilise stakeholders to address challenges faced by children with disabilities.
EdOCD chairperson Kangwa Nkandu said the organisation will work towards improving the lives of children living with disabilities.
“EdOCD envisages a commitment to supplement government’s efforts aimed at mitigating challenges faced by children with disabilities,” Mr Nkandu said.
He said the organisation aims to mitigate challenges faced by children with disabilities in accessing education through advocacy by providing social development programmes and services at community and national level.
Meanwhile Mrs Lungu has commended United Church of Zambia (UCZ) for its efforts to improve lives of the vulnerable.
Speaking during the UCZ Chanyanjano fundraising breakfast, Mrs Lungu said it is also her responsibility to reach out to the needy.
The First Lady was represented by Minister of Health Joseph Kasonde’s wife, Mary.
Mrs Lungu donated K5,000 towards the fundraising venture with the ministers’ spouses also donating the same amount.
“I thank you Ruth choir for the wonderful job you are doing in trying to uplift the lives of the less-privileged in our country,” Mrs Lungu said.
And UCZ Reverend Chipula Ndalama urged UCZ women to continue with their noble cause of helping the needy.
Rev Ndalama also called on women to be peace-makers, a practice that should start within their homes.




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