Bandileko Mwaulambia is a 27 year old woman working with the Ministry of Gender and Community Welfare as a Community Development Assistant (CDA) for Kapoka area in the traditional authority, Mwene-Misuku in Chitipa district. Bandileko has worked as a Community Development Assistant for 5 years.
Bandileko expressed her deep shock for the past four year before the project over the ways children with disabilities were treated at home and at school. In most cases, she saw children with diverse needs kept indoors without going to school as watchmen. She added while shaking her head that children with disabilities were regarded as a drain of financial resources because many think that they are non-achievers in life. At school too, teachers fail to handle learners with additional learning needs effectively because of lack of proper skills of handling them. On the other hand, the communities do not priotise the issue of user friendly infrastructure when coming up with school infrastructures.
The CCAP Synod of Livingstonia Education Department is implementing an inclusive education project in all public primaries and secondary schools in Chitipa district. From the various activities conducted in Chitipa, Bandileko as a social worker was honored by PEATEMA project as a facilitator on parent support group activity to facilitate work on group dynamics and leadership. It was during this forum when Bandileko was fully exposed to the works of PEATEMA project. The Trainer of Trainers (TOT) training, PEATEMA project conducted with Community Development Assistants and Specialist Teachers was another eye opener to her about the many challenges, many learners with special educational needs experience at home and at school. Bandileko is today standing in the shoes of learners with disabilities and she had this to say:
I, Bandileko Mwaulambia, thought everything was fine seeing children with disabilities wandering in the villages without going to school or staying indoors thinking that their parents or guardians love them .The facilitation of parent support group (PSG) training and the Trainer of Trainers (TOT) trainings I attended, have been an eye opener to me that such children if left unattended to will grow up with a dependency syndrome, relaying on begging. Since then, I ask myself that what will become of such children if their bread winners demise. I will therefore, include Peatema activities on my work plan for the community I work with including carry out a door to door campaign in my area sensitizing communities on the benefits of educating children with diverse needs.