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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Paralegals halted discrimination against a woman with disability

Disabled woman and a resident of Serengeti village-Bunda District, MwashiBedo setting up her domestic and other appliances which were forcefully taken by Serengeti village executives—thanks to Bunda paralegals who assisted to recover her properties.
 By Correspondent, Bunda
MwashiBedo (50) is a disabled woman who lives in Serengeti village, Bunda district. Like many other people with disabilities in the country, Mwashi lives in severe poverty due to the challenge of securing a steady income for individual upkeep and taking care of the family. Luckily, Mwashi is blessed with a boy, Michael Mathayo aged 14 who at the tender age had to support her family through small money he gets from petty businesses and farm works at the village.
As a strategy to speed up implementation of development projects in the village, local authorities had set up some rules and regulations, which among other things, require all members to contribute—either labour power or cash money, for every development project..
Two years ago, village authorities set a development priority, construction of a secondary school, asking every villager to contribute 10, 000/- for the project. The whole village was made aware of the project through village-public meetings and other platforms
Most of the villagers turned up, contributed money as well as labour power to make sure the project is completed on time, as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Due to abject poverty and other factors associated with her disability, Mwashi did not manage to contribute 10,000/= required by the village authorities
In what could be termed as absolute disregard of disabled rights, local executives went to Mwashi’s home and took all her properties—chairs, tables and other domestic appliances, which they planned to sell in order to get the money as her contribution for the construction of asecondary-school project.
She tried unsuccessfully to claim back her properties, as both village chairman and ward executive officer rejected her requests for “exemption” from the community development-fund contribution.
Annoyed by local executives’ actions, some fellow villagers advised Mwashi to consult Bunda paralegal organization, who assisted the disabled woman by taking her to Bunda district social welfare and district commissioner offices for further support. The local district commissioner and social welfare offices issued a letter directing Serengeti village authorities to exempt Mwashi from community development fund contributions. Paralegal took the letter to Serengeti village authorities, and Mwashiwas immediately erased from the list of potential contributors to the community developments project.
Serengeti village executives also returned all Mwashi properties to her home. “I feel happy that paralegals helped me to recover my properties and for ending the hussle I was going through. Since then, no village leader has approached me for any development contribution.” says Mwashi.
Having recovered her properties, she is now proceeding with her normal life (of course with great support from her boy) Michael, who works as casual labour in people’s farms and engage in other economic activities--earning them income to support themselves.
“People with disabilities and their families are confronted with numerous challenges on a daily basis. Paralegals and other stakeholders should join hands and extend necessary assistance to alleviate these obstacles, improve quality of life and empower people with disabilities to fulfill their potential.”- commented one independent social welfare expert, Anna Kitojo.


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