Abilities Sheltered Workshop

“ABILITIES,” is a voluntary organisation, with the essential objective which seeks to promote the interests of both physically and mentally handicapped persons.

Fortunate enough to be the only remaining manufacturing process that is still operational at “Abilities” albeit at much reduced levels, the Wood working Workshop still turns out educational toys and various pieces of furniture. Having once been able to support 23 workers, the workshop now has just 2 persons manning it. Estimates at the establishment suggest that from a work force that once numbered 110, approximately 90 per cent now fail to report for duty, in spite of the fact that the employment register still records them as active employees.

Lack of the ability to pay wages is the reason said to be responsible for this situation. The institution’s main catchments area for its “sheltered workers” can be found among disadvantaged communities in Bulawayo’s Western Townships, while others come from the nearby Ingutsheni Hospital for the mentally challenged. Perhaps a point of interest might be the fact that the female to male ratio pertaining to employees at “Abilities” last stood at one to three.

Today the complex at “Abilities” lies in a sorry state of dilapidation and has a deserted appearance; an emphatic monument to this fact is the battered 18 year old pick-up truck parked in the front yard. Never the less it is hard for one not to notice evidence which suggests that the place once boasted the ability to provide formidable competition for established companies which offered similar products and services. Facilities built and equipped to ensure the welfare of workers, well appointed workshop areas, and sturdy machinery that now lies idle, all bear testimony to this.

Ten years of failed policies on a national scale, saw the erosion of the country’s ability to maintain a reasonably viable economy, leaving not a single sector of society unscathed by the resultant effects. For varying reasons, some of which have already been mentioned elsewhere in this article, the Abilities Sheltered Workshop fell into the category of groups worst hit by this onslaught.

An interesting observation about institutions in Zimbabwe, which take care of the physically and mentally challenged, is the tenacity they’ve shown when weathering seemingly insurmountable obstacles during the difficult past decade. They have remained stunningly resolute in the face of extremely daunting odds, when at the same time, established concerns and financially well padded businesses were forced under by a tidal wave of catastrophic economic factors.

Sentiments expressed by Mr. Francis Msendami, the establishment’s Manager, may be regarded as a most apt reflection of some rather remarkable aspects that become evident in people of a high caliber. “If ever we lose hope it will spell the end for us. For the sake of our workers, their dependents and the community as a whole, it is important that we must fight on.” he said. When questioned about his personal vision for the institution, Mr. Msendami replied, “Naturally the resuscitation of ‘Abilities’ to full capacity levels is our priority. We won’t rest until this has been achieved. I and every other concerned person cannot be at peace as long as our charges are forced to continue eking out a living on the streets.”  Indeed, such remarks, most essentially, mirror core elements in current advocacy progammes being initiated by the Bulawayo based Zimbabwe Development Democracy Trust (ZDDT), a ‘hands on’   people centred organisation. These strategies are aimed at the resuscitation of local communities throughout the nation.

Making an impassioned appeal, Mr. Msendami challenged willing partners to come forward with the assistance that would be necessary to revive his organisation. He said that to this end, a candle molding machine and extrusion equipment, for manufacturing internationally acceptable chalk pieces, would be needed to kick-start such a revival.

The Abilities Sheltered Workshop is a properly registered and constituted institution. Membership is open to the public, though it is essential to note that those wishing to join as members or as employees in the sheltered environment, will be required to meet the stringent acceptance criteria.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1531311847533{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #666fa9 !important;}”]

Any willing partners wishing to assist Abilities may use the following contact details:
Abilities Sheltered Workshop                

P.O. Box 8362                     
Mobile: +263 915 239 558