SAFOD, Disability Community Still Mourn Rachel

By George Mwika Kayange

Over the past month, the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) and the entire disability sector has been mourning the death of SAFOD Chairperson, Rachel Kachaje, who died on 3 September 2020 in her home country, Malawi.

Mrs. Rachel Kachaje (seated front-left) successfully mobilized the disability community Southern Africa and beyond to raise the disability profile within in the regional and international development agenda.

In a condolence message issued by the Secretariat of SAFOD in Botswana on behalf of the SAFOD family (affiliates) from ten counties in the region, SAFOD Director General, Mussa Chiwaula, expressed shock over the untimely loss of a colleague, sister, and friend.

He said during the time she had worked with SAFOD after being elected to the position on the 25th November 2015, members of the Regional Executive Council (REC), the staff, and the entire membership of SAFOD found her to be someone who was very matured, pragmatic and a source of inspiration in REC, at the Secretariat, in the entire regional disability movement, and at the international level.

“In Rachel, we found someone who successfully withstood obstacles that impede many Persons with Disabilities and successfully lived her life with a lot of energy and positivity and proving that indeed disability is not inability,” he wrote.

Rachel was indeed a role model who inspired many people in her country, Malawi, and beyond. She proved that one can live a happy and positive life even though one has a disability. She was the Chairperson of the Disabled People International (DPI) where she inspired many persons with disabilities to raise the disability agenda in the international discourse.

“She was one of the splendid and distinguished leaders of the world disability movement, and enthusiastically committed to realization of the rights of persons with disabilities and full implementation of CRPD,” wrote Midori Hirano, Chairperson of DPI – Japan Assembly.

Besides being the Chairperson of Disabled Women in Africa (DIWA) until her demise, of which she was a cofounder, Rachel also served as ministry of Disability in Malawi. She also chaired the Commonwealth Disability Forum.  She was a member of the Board of Directors of the African Disability Alliance (ADA) where she served two four-year terms.

ADA Chief Executive Officer, Kudakwashe Dube, described her as a champion of disability, human and women’s rights.

“Her contribution will forever form a strong foundation to the fight for human rights of persons with disabilities and particularly women with disabilities,” he said.

Rachel played a key role in the Governance of the African Network for Evidence–to–Action in Disability (AfriNEAD) since its inauguration in 2007. In recognition of her work in the advancement of the rights of persons with disabilities in Africa and globally, Stellenbosch University honored her with a Doctorate Degree in Arts and Social Sciences which she was going to receive in December of 2020.

AfriNEAD Chairperson, Prof Gubela Mji, who is also the Director of Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies at Stellenbosch University, said her passage left a deep void to the network.

Revealed Mji: “Many young persons with disabilities that have listened to Mrs. Rachel
Kamchacha Kachaje when she speaks about disability and human dignity matters attest that
they want to be like her when they grow old.”

Regional Advocacy Platform on the Campaign for the SADC Disability Protocol

During the Southern Africa Disability Round Table Forum held in June 2017 in South Africa, organized by the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD), one of the key issues that were discussed was the draft SADC Disability Protocol currently being championed by SAFOD.

PURPOSE OF THE PLATFORM

To ensure that persons with disabilities have full access to fundamental human rights through their active involvement in policy development and implementation in Southern Africa.

OBJECTIVES OF THE PLATFORM

a) To provide technical support and inputs towards the drafting of the SADC Disability Protocol

b) To lobby and advocate for the adoption of the SADC Disability Protocol both a national level and international level.

c) To fundraise for resources that will ensure successful drafting and final adoption of the protocol

d) To promote and systematically monitor legislative proposals and strategic campaign work to influencing policy and practice throughout Southern Africa.

#SAFODProjects #SAFOD

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Property For Sale

The property in Francistown can be perfect for potential real estate investors, especially those interested in investing in a lodge as the complex consists of five units, including what used to be a bar before it was owned SAFOD’s property by 2009. It also consists of what used to be swimming pool which currently needs complete refurbishment. Apart from the administrative office, the other units were meant to be rooms for lodging.

For more information read here: http://property.safod.net/

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The myth of asexuality? Disability stigma as a barrier to sexual relationships

SAFOD and the University of East London (UEL) of Docklands Campus in the UK, signed a Sub-Contract to jointly conduct a research in South Africa entitled “The myth of asexuality? Disability stigma as a barrier to sexual relationships in South Africa.” with financial support from the the France-based International Foundation of Applied Disability Research (FIRAH).

The project is investigating the prevailing myths and attitudes towards the sexuality of Persons with physical Disabilities.

This is collaborative research project which also involves two other key partners, namely the South Africa-basedStellenbosch University and the Norway-based Stiftelsen for industriellogtekniskforskning(SITEF) – or in English, the Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research (SINTEF).

Strategic Goal:

To investigate the prevailing myths and attitudes towards the sexuality of people with physical disabilities among a sample general population in South Africa, as well as the experiences of people with physical disabilities.

Strategic Objectives:

  • Investigate the attitudes of the general population towards the sexuality of people with disabilities in South Africa;
  • Explore the experiences of stigma and barriers to fulfilling sexual relationships among people with disabilities in South Africa;
  • Raise public awareness about the intersection between disability stigma and sexuality

The myth of asexuality_ Disability stigma as a barrier to sexual relationships.png

Building DPOs’ Capacity in Promoting Inclusion in ECDE within CBR Programs

The SAFOD is a leading Southern African disability-focused network engaged in coordination of activities of Disability Peoples Organizations (DPOs) in the Southern Africa region working in 10 countries within the region, coordinating programs and activities through its national affiliate federations of DPOs in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In many of these countries, either our affiliate federations or at least some of their member DPOs are implementing Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) programs on the ground. Yet, at the same time, there is an academic theory that there is a strong correlation between CBR and inclusive Early Childhood Development and Development (ECDE). SAFOD intend turn the theory into practice.

Strategic Goal:

To strengthen the capacity of Disability Peoples Organizations (DPOs) and other community structures working in already existing Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) programs in increasing access to quality ECDE services for children with Special Needs Education (SEN).

Strategic Objectives:

  • To enhance early identification at community level for children with special needs through inclusive CBR interventions.
  • To build the capacity of SAFOD’s affiliate DPOs already working in CBR programs to strategically link CBR and inclusive ECDE interventions within target communities

BUILDING DPOS_ CAPACITY IN PROMOTING INCLUSION IN ECDE WITHIN CBR PROGRAMS

BUILDING DPOS CAPACITY IN PROMOTING AN INCLUSIVE LEGISLATIVE ENVIRONMENT

 

The Federation Organization of the Disabled People in Swaziland (FODSWA), which is a national affiliate of the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD), will seek to collaborate with the latter in undertaking capacity-building activities to support Disabled People Organizations (DPOs) in advocating for the domestication of the Un Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and enactment of appropriate laws by December 2016.

This is on the basis that one of the mandates of FODSWA is to lobby Government, through its membership of DPOs nationwide, to implement existing pieces of national legislation and policies affecting Persons with Disabilities.

Strategic Goal:

To strengthen the institutional capacity of FODSWA and its member DPOs in Promoting an Inclusive Legislative Environment in Swaziland through sustained advocacy for the domestication of the UNCRPD and enactment of appropriate laws by December 2016

Strategic Objectives:

  1. To enhance the internal governance and leadership management within FODSWA structures through the leadership forum by October 2015
  2. To strengthen SAFOD affiliates’ good governance capacity to promote the rights of persons with disabilities on national level.
  3. To build the capacity of FODSWA and its affiliate DPOs in advocacy and lobbying techniques through training workshops, by December 2015;

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The Assistive Technology Information Mapping (AT-Info-Map) Project

The Assistive Technology Information Mapping (AT-Info-Map) Project was funded by the Google Impact Challengeas one of the ‘big ideas that will use technology to expand opportunity and independence for people with disabilities’.

The project was officially launched in April 2016 and started in Botswana where SAFOD is headquartered as a one-year pilot. The first year involves designing and testing the technology system with a small group of participants to ensure it is useful and understandable by both persons with disabilities and organizations involved in supplying AT.

Strategic Goal:

AT-Info-Map is a 3 year project (2016-2019) that has the goal of mapping the availability of different types of assistive technology (AT) in 10 countries in Southern Africa.

Strategic Objectives:

Identifying WHAT types of AT are available and WHERE those products are located will serve three purposes:

  1. Connecting persons with disabilities to the available AT near their community,
  2. Supporting key actors in identifying AT needs. Key actors include public AT providers (clinics, community health centers, secondary and tertiary hospitals, schools), civil society, government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), disabled people organizations (DPOs) and businesses,
  3. Informing AT suppliers, manufacturers, and designers of unmet public demand.

THE ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY INFORMATION MAPPING (AT-INFO-MAP) PROJECT.png

The Organisational Development in Southern Africa Project

The Organisational Development Project is part of the FFO’s Theory of Change, to contribute to organisation development and Human Rights training that empowers its partner organizations. FFO’s partner organizations, such as SAFOD, contribute to change in attitude towards persons with disabilities in society in general, in governments and other spheres.

Strategic Goal:

The project will strengthen SAFOD as a regional disability federation to contribute towards making its affiliates stronger and the civil society independentin the Southern Africa region.

Strategic Objectives:

  1. The project has prioritized the following key strategies for the period 2016-2019 to work for inclusion of persons with disabilities in Southern Africa:
  2. To strengthen SAFOD affiliates’ good governance capacity to promote the rights of persons with disabilities on national level.
  3. To strengthen SAFOD’s advocacy towards SADC and the African Development Bank to promote inclusion of persons with disabilities on regional level.
  4. To develop a UNCRPD monitoring and shadow report program for SAFOD affiliates.
  5. To revive the Youth Wing of SAFOD.

The Organisational Development in Southern Africa Project

BOFOD Members Welcome AT-Info-Map Project to Botswana

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Members of BOFOD during the meeting with SAFOD and Dimagi

On 7th July 2016, members of Botswana Federation of the Disabled (BOFOD) – the official national affiliate of the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) in Botswana – expressed gratitude that the AT-Info-Map project is being piloted in their country. They pledged moral and technical support to ensure that it achieves its objectives set for the initial first year.

AT-Info-Map is a three year project (2016-2019) that has the goal of mapping the availability of different types of assistive technology (AT) in 10 countries in Southern Africa. Identifying what types of AT are available and where those products are located will help to connect persons with disabilities to the available AT near their community. Through the project, it is also envisaged that the the supplier and other key actors will be supported in identifying AT needs, and suppliers, manufacturers, and designers will be informed of unmet public demand.

Key actors include public AT providers (clinics, community health centers, secondary and tertiary hospitals, schools), civil society, government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) and businesses.

SAFOD, which is one of the four core implementing partners of the project – the other three include the University of Washington, AfriNEAD and Dimagi – will mainly rely on its affiliate, BOFOD, to help roll our the project at national level during the one year pilot before it can it can be scaled up to nine other countries in Southern Africa thereafter.

“We really appreciate for initiating this project, particularly for choosing Botswana as the country to pilot the project. This is very innovative as far as BOFOD is concerned and we are ready to provide all the support you may need from us,” said Mr. Thuso Rasetapa, BOFOD General Secretary.

During the meeting SAFOD and Dimagi representatives, Mr. George Kayange and Ms. Rashmi Jagdish, respectively, gave the BOFOD members an overview of the project, including explaining who the end-users will be when the mobile App is developed.
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Deaftronics Keen to Reach More Clients Through CommCare

Tendakayi
Mr. Katsiga showcasing the Solar Ear

The four core implementing partners of the Assistive Technology Information Mapping (AT-Info-Map) Project – SAFOD, AfriNEAD, Dimagi and UW – have so far been consulting a number of stakeholders, including AT suppliers, in Botswana. The latest supplier to be consulted is the Deaftronics, a company that assembles and provides solar rechargeable hearing aids and related accessories.

During the meeting held on 5th July 2016 with Deaftronics Founder and Operational Director, Mr. Tendekayi Katsiga, informed SAFOD and Dimagi officers that the CommCare App, when deployed, would help the company in its marketing drive for its products in Botswana and even in other nearby countries.

Deaftronics, which is owned and run by hearing impaired individuals who are also internationally certified in micro soldering techniques used in the aviation industry, has endeavored to develop its business network and improving its positioning to become a specialist centre for hearing aids in Africa. The company’s hearing aid unit, called Solar Ear, includes the first rechargeable hearing aid battery which lasts for 2-3 years and can be used in 80 percent of hearing aids on the market today. It is solar powered and can be charged via the sun, household light, or a cell phone plug.

“Besides providing basic information like the type of AT that we specialize in, our location and contacts, our expectation is that the Commcare App should also be able to provide links to our videos so that potential clients should be able to watch and appreciate our products before making contact with us,” said Mr. Katsiga.

While some of the primary aims of the At-Info-Map project include informing, through the App, the AT suppliers, manufacturers, and designers of unmet public demand, as well as connecting persons with disabilities to the available AT near their community, the App may also likely help AT suppliers in their marketing efforts for their products should some of their expectations – like those of Deaftronics – be taken on board.

Mr. Katsiga realized that hearing impaired people in rural Africa who were handed out hearing aids by various NGOs could not sustain its use as batteries were scarcely available and expensive. Mr. Katsiga’s simple solution was solar-powered hearing aids designed and manufactured by deaf people for deaf people.

Apart from providing training and empowerment to different centers including the Institute for the Deaf in Jordan, the National Institute for the Deaf in Cape Town, South Africa and Solar Ear in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Deaftronics is having significant impact both in Botswana and the whole of Africa, especially in the rural settings. Today the low-cost technology is reaching even more African children, with over 10,000 units distributed throughout the continent. In Zimababwe alone, more than 2,000 Solar Ear units have been distributed through Mercy Corps and the Nzeve Deaf Children’s Center in Mutare. The centre works closely with Mr. Katsiga, who introduced the invention there to make sure that children would be able to attend classes and learn, in spite of their hearing impairment.

Additional sources:

http://www.deaftronics.com/

http://www.deaftronics.com/about-us-23839130

http://www.unicef.org/zimbabwe/media_15762.htm

http://www.unicef.org/zimbabwe/media_14741.html