Standing up to stigma

Sarah was born with a cleft palate, in Zambia – a country where disability draws stigma and fear. So her mum kept Sarah hidden away, until Wukwashi taught them how to smile again.

Struggling to feed Sarah and wrestling with the shame that society thrust upon them, her mum plunged into depression.

But God hadn’t finished with this family. Our partner project Wukwashi arranged transport for Sarah to get to Beit Cure Hospital, where she underwent corrective surgery. They also welcomed Sarah and her mum into one of their support groups; a loving community of parents who understand.

Today, Sarah is thriving in the company of other children. Her mum has experienced such release that she is now supporting other parents who are struggling as she once did.

Changing hearts and minds towards disability is a key focus of Wukwashi’s work, including among parents themselves. As Wukwashi Director Joyce explains, ‘Unless parents change their negative attitudes towards their children, it’s difficult for the children to progress.’

Thank God with us that, once families recognise their children are made in God’s image, they begin to shake off stigma and stand up to the stereotypes. Recently, 17 Wukwashi children marked the International Day of Disability at an event where they sang, danced and expressed their uniqueness in the presence of government officials.