Welwitchia People with Disabilities

people at a table
Members of Welwitchia People with Disabilities Project

The concerns of people with disabilities are typically overlooked in many societies.  Acknowledging the pressing need to address the circumstances in which disabled people live in Kunene region, the Hope and Rise Disability project has worked over the past few years to rehabilitate, socially integrate, and promote equal employment opportunities for those living with a disability. In 2011, Welwitchia People with Disabilities received a grant from the U.S. Ambassador’s Self-Help Program to purchase equipment and supplies for carpentry, sewing, welding, and handicrafts production. Using this equipment, the project has trained 20 disabled men and women in Khorixas for the purpose of developing their skills into sustainable livelihoods.

Hope and Rise held sensitivity trainings and relocated the workplace to better accommodate disabled members.  Although the program is primarily targeted to the disabled, secondary beneficiaries include HIV/AIDS affected families, women, youth, and the unemployed.  Differences in income, employment, and perception between able-bodied and disabled have begun to decrease.  The project has made a positive community impact by reducing the stigma of people with disabilities, stimulating Damara cultural revival, and promoting sustainable entrepreneurialism.  Hope and Rise has strengthened community development services through participatory development.

man working
Members of Welwitchia People with Disabilities Project

A few years ago, a group of determined individuals in Oushake decided to promote the idea of a central marketplace in the community where small-scale producers could sell their goods, particularly cattle, but also vegetables, grain, and prepared meals.  In 2011, the Community Market received a grant from the U.S. Ambassador’s Self-Help Program to purchase cement, zinc, fencing, poles, wheelbarrows, and shovels, as well as construct covered stalls, and fence the project site.  Community support has been integral from the beginning, as the community’s headman donated land for the market.

A committee is in place to determine the best times to hold market days.  Despite a prolonged drought in the region, locals have not been deterred.  Over 200 cattle have been sold in Oushake’s first four livestock auctions, with a fifth auction slated for later this year.  Dozens of locals have benefitted from the market project.  The market has proven to be both lucrative and sustainable for the community.

Year round, the U.S. Embassy accepts applications for the U.S. Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Program to address community-based needs.

  • Successful grant proposals will show that the project has a strong community contribution and benefits the local community by increasing income or improving living conditions.
  • If the project is designed to generate income, it must be truly community-based and not a for-profit enterprise or sole proprietorship.
  • Grant proposals should be focused on helping communities, rather than individuals or individual families.

For more information about the U.S. Ambassador’s Self-Help Program.