Research has shown that in Eswatini, as in other low and middle-income countries, families living with disability suffer higher levels of poverty and disadvantage than any other population group. They generally have very little or no access to services such as education, health care, transportation, or social interaction. Together with this lack of access, research shows that they are at higher risk of abuse and discrimination.
Our area-specific situational analysis showed that the needs of the families of children with disabilities are for livelihood opportunities and access to disability-specific medical services and products. The situational analysis further highlighted the negative impact of stigma and discrimination on families' abilities to access education and be included in social and cultural events.
We work with children with disabilities and their families in the Lubombo region of Eswatini. Libumba follows the community-based inclusive development model which addresses the health, livelihoods, social inclusion, and empowerment components of life for families living with children with disabilities. Working with the whole family means that care-givers and whole families experience support, enabling them to better support their child.
At Libumba we consider community involvement and collaboration as fundamental to our services. We work with community stakeholders, local organizations, institutions, and persons to improve effectiveness, to improve the base of local support for families, and to ensure that efforts are sustainable and not duplicated.
INCLUSION IN HEALTH
A 2011 report on the “Living Conditions among People with Disabilities in Swaziland” showed that people with disabilities suffered poorer health than their able-bodied counterparts, but had poorer access to health care. Many obstacles, including transport, poverty, stigma, and discrimination, keep persons with disabilities from accessing basic healthcare or the specialized care which is often required.
We aim to connect families with the healthcare that they need by identifying and referring to local healthcare providers who will be able to serve the needs of the client.
INCLUSION IN LIVELIHOODS
We collaborate with Operation Hope Inc. to train families in micro-business start-up and management. Their "Small Change" programme is aimed at equipping persons with reading and writing competency to understand the basics of business, financial record-keeping, saving and budgeting.
The programme has two phases. The first is a six-week course on micro-business start-up and management. In the second phase families are mentored throughout the practical experience of doing market research, writing a business plan, and paying back a series of incrementally larger loans.
Inclusion is a social issue. All circles of society from family up to government need to have an attitude of inclusion. Policies go a long way in preparing the road, but there needs to be a change of attitude at the individual and community level or persons with disabilities will continue to face exclusion.
For this reason, we collaborate with families, churches, schools, and local leaders. Our workshops aim to improve understanding of disability and help communities to work towards practical ways of being inclusive.
EMPOWERMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
When children with disabilities and their families feel empowered, they can "work together as agents for change within their homes, community and country, by providing the tools to support each other, access resources and opportunities, and campaign for social change and inclusion wherever services, systems and attitudes exclude children with disabilities." (Empowerment Outcomes, Dr. Jean Elphick)
At Libumba, we work with children with disabilities and their families to improve feelings of empowerment. In all our interactions with caregivers, we focus on increasing knowledge and skills regarding living with disability and the rights of children with disabilities. We aim to build an atmosphere where carers feel accepted and can stand together to change their communities to be more inclusive and accessible for children with disabilities.
STRENGTHENING RESOURCE BASE
Since our start, Libumba has been confronted with the need for a team of community members who have the knowledge, skills and attitudes to serve those living with disabilities. In 2022, Libumba successfully conducted a year-long Community Disability Worker (CDWs) training course for 12 women!
The 12 new CDWs are family members of persons with disabilities to become CDWs and are from Maphiveni, Maphungwane, Tikhuba and Mambane, all located within the eastern Lubombo Region. The two CDWs from Maphiveni will continue to work in Maphiveni for our partner Kudvumisa Foundation, while the remaining CDWs are now part of the Libumba team working in the Matsanjeni North inkhundla (Maphungwane - including Mavalela and Sibovini, Tikhuba and Mambane).
The CDWs have been equipped to support children and families within the community setting. Our work places a special emphasis on a holistic approach to impairment inclusion and advocacy. The CDWs' focus for 2023 will be on improving access to healthcare and providing home-based support to caregiver(s) and child.
COLLABORATION FOR EFFICACY
Libumba is surrounded by organizations and individuals who do incredible work in the community. We collaborate with skilled and knowledgeable persons to provide meaningful support to families.
By collaborating with others, we are able to reach further and make a more sustainable, impactful difference. We are able to learn from others' expertise to provide support just as they make use of our expertise. We are able to share the load, encourage one another, and provide holistic support to families in need.
Check out the Our Partners tab for more information on the organizations we work with!