Support people with intellectual disabilities- Special Olympics Mw – Capital Radio Malawi
24 July, 2024

Support people with intellectual disabilities- Special Olympics Mw

Mphatso Chiphwanya, has represented Malawi in several international special Olympics tournaments

Special Olympics Malawi is advocating for mindset change towards people with intellectual disabilities as one way of dealing with discrimination and abuses faced by children and adults with general learning difficulties.

Such discrimination is believed to be hindering their participation in sports, education and other activities that will help them reach their full potential.

It follows continued discrimination and abuse of individuals with intellectual disabilities with reported cases of some families and guardians locking them up in rooms and sometimes tying them to trees.

Apparently, parents and guardians resort to locking up and tying their relatives with general learning disabilities thinking that they are protecting them not knowing that they are actually abusing them.

Speaking during a stakeholder’s meeting in Mzuzu, Special Olympics Malawi National Director Enid Mauluka said, “What we want is sensitization to change people’s mindset.”

She said as an organization anytime they hear about a child being locked up, they always make sure that they intervene.

“We reach out and at the same time, we are trying to make sure that we engage other families that have been doing similar things so that they share their own experiences and convince others not to lock up their children,” Mauluka said.

Mauluka, calling for mindset change towards those with intellectual disabilities

She added; “It is still a big problem. You know even marriages are ending, when a man hears that his child has an intellectual disability they do not handle it lightly and mostly it is blamed on the woman. It can be issues to do with witchcraft you know different types of beliefs and I feel like it is really going to take a while for people to start looking at intellectual disability in a different angle. “

“Therefore, we are urging people to understand the things that are causing intellectual disabilities and how as a country we can work on making sure that we improve the situation either of those already having intellectual disabilities or reducing numbers of people that will get intellectual disabilities,” Mauluka said.

Special Olympics as an organization in Malawi is there to provide all year round sports for athletes with intellectual disabilities. These can be children up to adults who are given training in Olympics type of sports just to make sure that they enjoy with the rest of other people.

However, due to financial challenges, the organization is failing to reach out to all individuals with general learning disabilities estimated to be around 3 percent of the country’s population across the country with sporting events for them to showcase their abilities and talents.

Mauluka admits that they have not been doing a lot but she was quick to point out that they have been trying their best with the little resources that they have.

She said; “In general, if you look at sporting industry, there is not a lot of support either from families, community or from the private sector, but as an organization we have been trying with the little resources that we have to ensure that we reach out to each and every district.”

“However, in every district we cannot even brag to say that yes we are in every district. That is why we are here today to sensitize regional and district leaders about the importance of carrying out sports for people with intellectual disabilities. We believe that after this meeting we will be getting as much support as possible within the region and within the districts,” Mauluka said.

Meanwhile, Special Olympics Malawi Regional Coordinator for the North Oswald Lungu is lobbying for more financial support towards the organization for them to be able to reach and run sporting activities for people with intellectual disabilities.

Lungu said; “As an organization, we used to do many activities previously. We used to have zonal, district, regional and national games. However since those years when we were so active we have been having challenges.”

“The major challenge is the funds. Funds are not enough to make us carry out all the activities that we need to do with our athletes. This challenge is coupled up by the fact that our athletes are not found in one place, they are spread out in the regions and indeed in the areas.”

“We mainly depend on the grants coming from Special Olympics International, but since the athletes’ base is increasing, the funds that are trickling in are not enough. Locally we used to raise funds but because Malawi is not at the moment able to support people economically, we are finding difficulties to keep on running these activities,” he said.

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