Africa University Chaplaincy Outreach: Empowering the disabled during COVID- 19

13 September 2020- The Africa University Chaplaincy through its outreach function brought a ray of hope and light to the Viage family that is resident in Tsvingwe, Mutare. Chipo Viage is 15 years old and was born paralyzed while Tichafa Viage is in his 40’s and has no mobility in his legs.  Without access to a wheelchair and walker respectively, their independence was compromised greatly impacting their quality of life and the ability of Tichafa particularly to earn a living for the family.

The AU Chaplaincy, hearing of their plight reached out to well- wishers to mobilize resources to assist the family especially in the procurement of assisted mobility equipment. With the generosity and kind assistance of Mr Raphael Bareyi, a Harare- based member of the United Methodist Church, the Chaplaincy facilitated the purchase of two wheelchairs and one walker which were handed over to the family along with groceries and clothing. Tichafa expressed his gratitude saying his mobility has been greatly improved as he will be able to travel without assistance.

From Left: Tichafa Viage, Chaplain Maudy Muchanyerei, Raphael Bareyi (In wheelchair) Chipo Viage

The handover ceremony was attended by the AU Chaplain Reverend Maudy Muchanyerei, staff from the Chaplaincy and some AU students who are members of the United Methodist Students Movement (UMSM) and provided further assistance through the handover of food hampers and clothing that they sourced. Mobility aids which include canes, crutches, wheelchairs and guide dogs are essential for people living with disabilities as they allow more independence, can alleviate pain and most importantly improve self- esteem and confidence.

Mobility aids are also a means of inclusion for the disabled who still struggle to gain wide spread acceptance in many communities across the continent  often resulting in their falling into cycles of generational poverty that are extremely difficult to break due to misconceptions and prejudice in employment and access to economic  opportunities. Further to this, many urban and rural areas remain inaccessible, unaccommodating to their needs and nearly impossible to navigate without the assistance of a care giver. It is through assisted mobility that the disabled are empowered and enabled become active members of the society

The occasion of the donation to the Viage family was also used to assist other families in the area with the Mandiwanza’s in Manica Bridge also receiving food hampers. The 5 member Mandiwanza family who all suffer from mental disabilities came to the attention of the then Chaplain, the late Reverend Dr. Philemon Chikafu, who noticed the family scavenging in a landfill next to the university’s main campus. Engaging the local traditional leadership, a piece of land was secured for the Mandiwanza family upon which the Chaplaincy assisted in building a house.

Students pose for a picture together with the Mandiwanza family.

Reverend Maudy Muchanyerei is continuing with legacy outreach programmes such as these and visits the family frequently with the AU branch of the UMSM. Noting the need for new windows, a door and painting of the Mandiwanza home, the students of the UMSM have pledged to fundraise and help provide these essential materials.

The Africa University Chaplaincy remains a pillar of support and strength to the communities that surround the institution. Providing 3 key functions: Preaching, Guidance and Counselling and Outreach- the Chaplaincy exists to serve and be a bastion of faith and love in action especially during the COVID- 19 Pandemic.