BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
CHILDREN living with disabilities and cognitive challenges have faced severe difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic and most of them, including children enrolled at Sharon Cohen Special School in Chitungwiza now look to well-wishers and philanthropists for assistance.
Sharon Cohen Special School is part of the Zimcare Trust group of schools for the disabled, mentally challenged and vulnerable children.
As the Christmas season approaches, the school has extended a begging bowl to well-wishers.
The school patron Amanda Cohen told participants during a Christmas party held at the school, named in honour of the late Sharon Cohen, who was daughter to renowned businessman and philanthropist Victor Eric Cohen who tragically died in a car accident in 1980.
The fun-filled party was attended by MDC Alliance vice-president Tendai Biti and the Zimcare national director Nicholas Aribino. Sharon Cohen Special School is also home to 80 special-needs children.
Amanda said since the passing away of her father, sources of funds for the school had dried out, adding that most local donors were unable to assist the institution due to the deteriorating economic situation prevailing in the country.
“If the school’s various projects are well-funded, it becomes easy for the school to self-sustain. But currently, the school is in urgent need of a new bus, an industrial stove, farming inputs — seeds and fertiliser, chickens — broilers and layers — and the necessary feed and antibiotics for its poultry project and fabric and supplies for the sewing project,” Cohen said.
“There is also need to support more formal education such as numeracy and writing such that the children learn a wide range of everyday skills, among them grooming, dressing, sewing and agriculture, computers, arts and crafts and cooking,” she said.
Cohen said due to the economic problems the country is facing, the school had doubted that it would successfully hold this year’s Christmas party for the children with cognitive challenges.
“Due to the deteriorating economic situation, things have been tough. It was looking doubtful that the children would have their annual Christmas party, but together with my sister Belynda Halfon, we worked tirelessly along with staff to ensure that the children would have a party which is the highlight of the year,” she said.
While the Zimcare-run school is supported through donations, the organisation has 25 dedicated teachers and nurse aids whom Cohen described as loving and caring.
She said the school had other staff members such as the administration team, caretakers, social workers and support staff who ensure that the children are taken care of and happy and
She said some of the well-wishers, who made this year’s Christmas party possible, include Suzanne Ackerman from Pick n Pay who made a donation of $50 000, Central Cash Butchery which donated meat and Cold Chain which came in with fruit juices, as well as Feedmix which donated mealie-meal.
Cohen also said donors from South Africa had also reached out to the school and promised to revamp its borehole with a new submersible pump.
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