EMPOWERING the blind with various forms of entrepreneurship and small businesses may help the blind to stop begging in the streets, Zambia Association for the Blind and Partially Sighted Women (ZABPSW) coordinator Maureen Musonda has said.
Ms Musonda said empowering the blind with entrepreneurship and small businesses may help the blind to stop begging on the streets and become self-sustaining.
She was speaking on Thursday in Ndola at Kabushi Skills Training Institute when the Presidential Empowerment Initiative Fund (PEIF) handed over 20 bicycles to the blind and partially sighted women.
“We are grateful that this Government of President Edgar Lungu has been thinking about us the blind who have been neglected for a long time. For President Lungu to think about us it means he recognizes us as people who can also participate in the country’s economy through entrepreneurship and small businesses.
“If the blind are empowered, they may even stop begging in the streets and become self-sustaining. So we are grateful that President Lungu is trying to uplift our status in society,” Ms Musonda said.
She said the blind women were happy to receive the bicycles because, through their guides, they will be using them to transport goods to and from the market.
“I would like to thank President Lungu for this initiative of giving the bicycles to the blind. We really do struggle a lot to raise capital and to transport our goods from one point to another, but now with these bicycles, they will help us a lot.
“With a leader like President Lungu, we have hope that things will continue to get better. He should not even worry about those calling him names. They are bad people,” she said.
And fund manager Joseph Chilinda said the Presidential Empowerment Initiative Fund (PEIF) which was initiated by President Edgar Lungu in 2015 had set the stage for empowering the less privileged through giving loans and other means of empowering them.
In Kitwe’s Cha Cha Cha township, the initiative donated an industrial over-locking sewing machine which would be used to train more than 20 women in sewing various types of clothes by a trained tailor who is disabled and moves by use of wheelchair.
Mr Chilinda said the PEIF will continue to be a non-partisan vehicle for poverty alleviation through empowering the differently abled traders, marketeers and vendors.
He said it had so far disbursed more than K12 million to marketeers and traders in its efforts to improve their capital base.
And the PEIF patron, Chanda Kabwe, told the traders that President Lungu had the heart for the blind and other disabled people and wanted to see them empowered because they were also stakeholders in the economy of the country.
“You may be blind but you have unique talents which, if supported, you can exploit them and earn a living through your talents. This is why President Lungu does not want to neglect you because he knows that every human being created in the image of God is important,” Mr Kabwe said.
Mr Kabwe said the empowerment funds were non-political and this was why the loans were being given to any marketeers regardless of their political affiliation.
He reiterated the need for marketeers to put the money to good use in order to reap the real and desirable results so that they could be able to point at what the PEIF had done.
“President Lungu cares about your welfare. He is not interested in politicking but wants to see his people living better lives. That is why he came up with this empowerment initiative because he understands the challenges that you go through.
‘‘This money is meant to boost your businesses, therefore use it for the intended purpose,” he said.