Due to the levels of poverty in Zambia, most families of disabled children and adults in Zambia cannot afford to buy mobility aids designed to make day-to-day life that little bit easier. This risks disabled people becoming isolated and not getting the same opportunities as their able-bodied counterparts.
At The Zambia Society Trust, we are trying to do something about this. We support Appropriate Paper-based Technology (APTERS), a Lusaka-based organisation set up in 1990 that uses paper-based technology techniques to make mobility aids for disabled people – on average it produces more than 380 mobility aids a year.
APTERS is run by a group of physically challenged entrepreneurs who are working to provide a service for people with disabilities and their families in Zambia. They aim:
- To produce mobility aids for physically challenged children (e.g. those with cerebral palsy or birth injuries). The made-to-measure equipment is instrumental in treatment and rehabilitation and includes standing frames, chairs, wedges and walkers.
- To offer economic and personal empowerment to people who are physically challenged through regular paid employment.
- To work in partnership with local communities. A number of schools, businesses and organisations collect and recycle paper on behalf of APTERS, and APTERS staff have been invited into art classes to show pupils how to make papier mâché products. This serves to promote the work of APTERS and raise awareness of disability issues among local people.
- To raise additional funds through the sale of commercial products. The workshop also makes various papier mâché products such as dustbins, file boxes, toys and trays which are available for sale to the public as a means to raise extra funds for the organisation.
- To offer advice and assistance as required. The APTERS Support Group acts as a policy-making body, underwriting 90 percent of all mobility aids made by the APTERS team as nearly all parents are unable to meet the cost themselves. The Zambia Society Trust is a major donor, currently providing a third of the Support Group's contribution.