By KASONDE KASONDE –
FIRST Lady Esther Lungu has cautioned fathers against stigmatising, discriminating and abandoning their physically challenged children.
Ms Lungu said abandoning a child was an offence which was punishable by law as the task of raising children with disabilities should not be left to mothers alone.
She said there was need to create an environment that was safe for children with disabilities for them to participate equally in self-identification, career setting and skills development.
The First Lady said parents and guardians of children who had physical challenges needed care, respect and emotional support in order for them to adequately care for children.
“As a nation, let us continue to place renewed emphasis in reaching out to children with disabilities by providing an environment that enables everyone to feel safe, accepted and in the development of the country,” Ms Lungu said.
She said this yesterday in a speech read on her behalf by Ethel Matibini, wife of the Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini during an end-of-year children’s party organised by the Cheshire Homes Society of Zambia in Lusaka.
Ms Lungu said she was happy that Cheshire Homes had continued to ensure that children with disabilities were actively included in the social life of the family, community and nation which was important for their personal development.
She urged citizens to desist from marginalising and rejecting people with disabilities.
Ms Lungu said it was gratifying that the nation was making huge strides in accepting persons with physical challenges including children and providing them with the much-needed support so that they did not get discouraged with life.
Cheshire Homes Board chairperson Simon Bota said the children were drawn from Chipata, Chazanga, Kabanana, Chaisa, Garden and Mandevu townships.
Mr Bota said the theme for the Christmas party was ‘Removing all barriers that prevent children with disabilities from participating in leisure activities’.
He said the organisation was currently operating at 40 per cent of the budget requirement as funds were insufficient.