Visually impaired women miss crucial ICT classes to put food on tables

By Precious Moyo

Mrs Ntombizodwa Mabika is seated by a food outlet at Corner 8th Avenue and Jason Moyo Streets, begging alms from Good Samaritans.While her male counterparts are in the Bulawayo Public Library taking free lessons on how to use computers, Mrs Mabika is planning on what she will put on the table for supper.

“This is how we survive. I am the breadwinner and l have to work hard to make sure that l buy food for my family .My first born who is learning at Copota School for the blind in Masvingo needs money,” she said while counting her collection.

Asked by this reporter if she knew about the ICT training for visually impaired people at the Public Library, Mrs Mabika said: “Yes my friend told me but l don’t have time. If l leave what l am doing to attend lessons then who will give me food for the day?” she asked.

She said she will manage to go if she is given something to take home after the lessons.

Mrs Mabika is one of the visually impaired women in Bulawayo who are failing to attend free ICTs lessons at the Bulawayo Public Library because they have tireless days looking for food to put on the table.

The Bulawayo public library partnered with Simphiwe Development Trust to start training visually impaired people in ICTs.

The Braille Department Co-ordinator, Mr Killion Dube said for now they are training facilitators but it is worrisome that there are no women in the class.

Mr Dube said women usually are breadwinners who invest their time either in businesses or asking alms from good Samaritans in the streets hence they fail to attend such programmes.

“The women whom we approached did not show up, it might not be necessarily because they are not interested but they have many responsibilities compared to men,” he said.

Mr Dube said the only way to attract women to class is to have something to give them as a take home after lessons.

“Unfortunately we are self funded and we do not have capacity to give them anything. At least if we could find well-wishers to donate something so that we accommodate these mothers,” he said.

Mr Dube said it is critical for the visually impaired community to catch up with ICTs in the advent of technology.

“Technology is taking center stage in life and we cannot afford to be left out. We need to catch up with the rest of the world. My worry is that women are left behind of which they are the drivers of the economy,” he said.

He said money transactions now need people who are computer literate.

“Hard cash is scarce these days, people prefer using plastic money. Imagine someone sends money in the bank, how do they use it if they are not computer literate,” he said.

In an interview recently, Information and Communications Technology and Cyber Security Minister Kazembe Kazembe said ICT training is critical for visually impaired people so that ‘they catch up with the rest of the world’

“The visually impaired have been lagging behind in terms of technology but we are making efforts to ensure that they catch up with other. Being computer literate enables them to have equal opportunities with the rest of the world,” he said.

He said government has partnered with the private-sector to train teachers for visually impaired learners with requisite training that equip them to teach learners ICT skills.