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Rays of hope from Zimbabwe
April 27, 2010

African Synod Proposition 50: Person with disabilities

"Many persons in our societies are mentally or physically challenged, and oftentimes, marginalized. The Synod, remembering the right of to life of persons with disabilities, proposes that:

  • every effort be made to ensure their full integration in society and our ecclesial communities, so that they can exercise their gifts, realize their potential, and fully experience the reconciling presence of Christ in the community; and
  • programs be established to encourage their integration into pastoral planning in our dioceses and our local Church communities."

But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. Luke 14:13-14

Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. Isaiah 1:17

Although the political and economic reality in Zimbabwe remains tenuous at best, resilient communities in Zimbabwe continue to work towards a just and peaceful environment to pass on to following generations.

One among many inspiring examples is the King George VI Centre. Believing that “every person has some special skill,” this organization reaches out to improve the lives of orphans and vulnerable children suffering from various disabilities and victimized by the belief that disabilities are either the result of witchcraft or the fault of parents. These children are often abandoned, denied access to school, refused passage on buses and repeatedly isolated.

For 50 years the King George VI Centre has provided education, skills development, and rehabilitation to these children with special needs, giving them a future and a chance to live. The Centre offers programs in AIDS awareness, youth advocacy, disability awareness, counseling, independent living, and leadership.

Liyana, a group of eight musicians with disabilities who are part of the King George Centre’s excellent arts program, has received international acclaim for its work. (The name Liyana means “it’s raining” in Ndebele and equals good luck.) The Oscar-winning documentary Music by Prudence is about the group and its leader, Prudence Mabhena (a former student and current teacher at the King George VI Centre), who, although missing limbs due to arthrogryposis, is Liyana’s lead singer and composer.

King George VI Centre

Music by Prudence, winner of 2010 Academy Award for short documentary

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