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Breaking barriers  is not easy but it is a  challenge  many have to overcome. This is Janet Kambobe’s story of living with disability beyond barriers. In a exclusive interview with Millennium Television, Janet takes us through her journey.

Question: Tell us about yourself and what you do when you are not home.

Answer: My name is Janet Kambobe and when I am not home, I am a business lady.

Question: When you talk of business, what do you mean? Is it local or you are international?

Answer: I am in the international business and local suppy.

Question:  Ok that means there is a lot that you are doing. Now obviously we are looking at disability and you say you are business lady.  Tell us how you manage. How you manage to go to these countries. Just take us through how you go to these foreign countries to order your goods and come to supply locally.

Answer: Let me start with the local company. I registered a company and I make company profiles and take to other companies. And there are days when you go maybe twice a week to check and they give you business. If there isn’t , like us the disabled, it’s challenging to be given business here in Zambia. This is what made start this international supply. I order maize bran. There are different types of maize bran and there is wheat bran and sunflower cake. We go to Botswana and when I sell these, I deal with agents. After  I sell my stuff, I get paid after 2 or 3 days and then I take the money to the mines and I order salt. So I use the same truck and once the mine pays me, I clear everything. I sell the salt at Kamwala in Lusaka.

Question: You are differently abled in your own space but this doesn’t mean unable to do things. Do you have challenges with living with community stigma.

Answer: Yes there are such challenges  in communities. I recently moved to a new community and you know people are curious about new people. People think that when you are disabled, you can not manage anything, so on my part, I make sure my children are properly looked after and look god. I manage within my resources to send my children to school.

Question: How do you manage this?

Answer: Being disabled doesn’t mean I cant look after my children.  I talk to my children and tell them that I am different from other people but that is no reason for them to beg or fail to go to school. I don’t want my children to be roaming streets  or having aimless walks. When they come back from school, they stay home. If they are not watching TV, then are reading books. Friends are only at school. I don’t want them to be visiting other people’s homes because they will be asking how those people live and what they do. So to avoid  differing with people. I keep my children home. This is how  I have maintained my standards.

Question: So that they (children) know that this is how you are?

Answer: Yes.

Question: There are many institutions in Zambia dealing with disability issues but which ones  do you think is doing a  good job and really helping

Answer: I will mention the Zambia Agency for Persons with Disabilities because this is the mother body. This is like an agency of government looking after the affairs of persons with disabilities. We have many challenges despite government putting in money because  they can not give us everything we need to ease our problems. So I think that government tries to pump in money to try and uplift the living standards of persons with disabilities but we are just  too many and our thinking is different. The Zambia Agency for Persons with Disabilities has many properties and some are dormant. Those same ones, especially that even donors pump in money, if they came up with programs creating warehouses for different activities such as knitting, tailoring , carpentry etc.            We can work from there and they find us markets such Tuesday market. Just to organize a way in which we could be finding a market and we do the work on our own. At the end of  the day or month, at least our standard of living can change. This can also help to concentrate on this work because you know that once you have worked, you will get something. I also think this would reduce on the number of street beggars from our friends.

Question: There have been complaints of buildings not being accessible to persons with disability. What advice can you give to employers to accommodate persons with disabilities?

Answer: The problem is that companies are not being corrected by government. It is the responsibility of ZAPID to be inspecting buildings and companies for compliance. To ensure buildings are accessible to persons with disabilities. It is not just private companies, for instance I can give an example of the Lusaka Civic Centre, for many years there has been no elevators,. If one wants to see the mayor or town clerk, it is challenging to get upstairs. Maybe you get there and find they are not in the office and you get another appointment or you fall and hurt yourself, no one will take care of you. It becomes your problem.  So if government could work hand in hand with ZAPID, it can work well and get better results.

Question: what are the major challenges you face when you consider your work, selling or home life

Answer: my biggest challenge is my business. I have all the papers but immediately we enter offices and people see the clutches, they let us down because they think we can not do the job .  So even getting business is tough. Other people will get but one with disability will not get. So it is really tough.

Question: How can the media work with persons with disabilities to help them? I know there are many with speak on different media but should be work.

Answer: I think being connected just like the way you have invited us.  Going in the field and interviewing those  begging on the street. I used to do a course in tailoring and started work I city market but because of competition I stopped and started doing other things. The media  can do a real campaign to help by finding out how the persons with disabilities are surviving. Most are suffering. Especially in shanty compounds where there are public pit latrines.

Question: Have you ever had opportunity to counsel other persons with disabilities

Answer: Yes I have had talks with some. And disability is in different ways. Some are short tempered.  Some disability like mine is as a result of polio, while others are born like with or with down syndrome. Even approach is different. People think persons with disabilities are rude but that is not the case. We are different.

Question:  But you managed to counsel some?

Answer: Yes, I did manage and we teach other. We have whatsapp group to counsel each other. If you approach business people with a temper they wont give you business so you have to be cautious. Other people will deliberately frustrate you so that you do not go back, so one just has be patient.

Question:  what advice would you give to persons with disabilities with ideas of starting a business but are not sure? Or they want to enter employment but lack courage.

Answer: I can just ask they to join groups and interact more. They will learn from groups. Like me, I am willing to teach. The  cross border business I am doing has challenges but I can still advise someone how to do it.

Question: Does living with a disability advantage or disadvantage you?

Answer: mmm, both because being disabled has advantage and disadvantage but the disadvantage is the most prominent. The way I manage in my business, people even laugh at me that I should not be doing this. But I just tell people that even me I am a person and  have children who I should take care of and therefore I need to earn a living.

 Question:  thank you for making time to talk to us, do you any last words.

Answer: I just want to encourage people with disability to avoid begging and strive to earn a living on their own. And the government has made things easier now for us to get loans, so lets do that.

This program is supported by WAN –IFRA WOMEN IN NEWS AND CHESHIRE HOMES. Hover, views expressed in this program do not reflect views of WAN IFRA WOMEN IN NEWS.


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