LUSAKA, March 4 (Xinhua) -- For the majority of the world's persons with disabilities, exclusion, isolation, and abuse as well as lack of educational and economic opportunities are parts of their daily experiences.
To counter these challenges, three Zambian youths who are residents of the capital Lusaka, have embarked on community engagement works with young people and policymakers aimed at changing wrong perceptions about persons with disabilities. The idea is to ensure that disabled people are fully integrated into society.
They assert that while many interventions aimed at alleviating the sufferings of persons with disabilities exist, societies still have challenges accommodating disabled people, a situation that has compelled them to engage fellow young people in awareness-raising initiatives about disabilities.
"Despite the existence of policies and programs targeted at enhancing capacities of persons with disabilities, disabled people still face challenges being integrated into society because of myths and misconceptions regarding various types of disabilities," said a visually impaired youth Royce Banda.
Banda who become blind after suffering from a brain tumor five years ago explained that her experiences as a blind person compelled her to become an advocate working to advance the welfare of youths with disabilities.
"I am now able to see the challenges that blind people and other individuals with disabilities go through. It is these very challenges that drive me to work at advancing disability issues with different stakeholders and communities," she said.
And Clara Mumba a youth with albinism said most challenges confronting persons with disabilities, in general, are a result of social constructs and can be addressed through initiatives that promote greater awareness and understanding of disability issues.
"That is why I have made it a point to work with children regardless of their abilities. It is important to engage children in discussions about disabilities at an early stage so they grow to appreciate other human beings," explained Mumba who specializes in early childhood development and advocacy works.
Her sentiments were shared by Maureen Banda, another visually impaired youth who added that changing people's perceptions towards persons with disabilities is not only key to ending stigma and discrimination against disabled people but also beneficial to society at large.
"Acceptance of disabled people is important for the advancement of both society and persons with disabilities. Once accepted, persons with disabilities will be easily integrated into society and contribute to development," Maureen said. Enditem