Signs of Hope, a local lobby group for the rights of people with disabilities and activist Tsepang Nare today launched a virtual campaign meant to assist students nationwide with school fees, sanitary wear and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The initiative dubbed, Back Pack of Hope campaign was inspired by the negative economic effects of COVID-19 pandemic on people with disabilities who have to go back to school post-lockdown.
“What really inspired me to do this campaign is the effects of COVID-19 that i am witnessing as school fees has been increased and many students are likely to drop out,” said Nare.
The situation during lockdown was devastating as many breadwinners could not fend for their families bearing in mind that most people rely on the informal sector.
“As we are trying to live in the new normal, there is need for us to create a conducive and safe environment by providing masks, soap, stationery, sanitizers and sanitary wear hence this drive will push people to donate to those who cannot access these necessities,”
“Today, we are launching this drive and we hope it will reach out thousands across the country to donate for the good cause. I have 20 liters of washing soap, 100 exercise books, 50 pads and pencils and im going to lead the campaign with these. With these we are hoping that we are going to receive more donations, more funds so that many people benefit from this drive,” Nare said.
According to the Zimbabwe Education Cluster Humanitarian Response & COVID-19 Sitrep(25 June 2020) school closures have disrupted the education of more than 4.6 million children, with adverse impacts on the protection and wellbeing of children as well as their readiness for school, attendance and participation in learning.
“Prolonged school closures are likely to have a major and negative affect on children’s learning, physical, social and mental health and well-being threatening hard-won educational achievements for years to come. Prolonged school closures will likely exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and inequalities among children, especially girls, children with disabilities, those in rural areas, orphans and vulnerable children, as well as those from poor households and fragile families,”
In an interview with 263Chat, founder of Signs of Hope Samantha Sibanda said this campaign will be mainly for children with disabilities but will be open to assist all other children too.
“This campaign will benefit children with disabilities but we won’t leave out children from vulnerable households. We are extending it to be on social media so that a person who has donated can also post and motivate other so that at the end, most children can return to school,”
“By virtue of being Disability Rights Activists, our personal donations will go to children with disabilities but ofcourse this challenge is for most children out there,” Sibanda added.
Signs of Hope has been paying fees for deaf students, providing soap and masks during the pandemic and giving out sanitary packs to girls with disabilities.