Zimbabwean alumnus Edmore Masendeke is a published author, economist (working for the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank), disability activist as well as a person living with cerebral palsy. In 2010, he founded Endless Possibilities, a non-profit organisation that coordinates awareness campaigns for the inclusion of disabled people as well as empowerment programs for people with disabilities. Edmore is passionate about inspiring and challenging people with disabilities to rise above the limitations of their impairments.
The most significant opportunities, faced by the organisation and Edmore’s advocacy work, is the increased attention given to disability issues on the world stage, which includes international days commemorating disability-related themes. This global focus has made it easier for Edmore to engage key stakeholders as well as address the challenges faced by people living with disabilities. Some of the challenges include a lack of comprehensive laws and policies that promote and protect the rights of people with disability. These challenges are made worse by the stigma and discrimination faced by people with disabilities in the country.
While completing a Short Course Award on Macroeconomic Management for Resource-Rich Countries in 2017, Edmore gained knowledge on inclusive development that emphasised the need for economic policies to be inclusive. Previously, in 2016, the Reserve Bank had adopted a financial inclusion strategy. However, at that time the strategy did not address disability, nor did it support people living with disabilities. Following the completion of the short course, Edmore wrote a paper motivating for the inclusion of disability in the strategy. He also mobilised stakeholders, within the disability sector, to engage the Reserve Bank on the issue. Subsequently, the Bank adopted disability as one of the strategy’s thematic focuses and established a loan facility for people with disabilities.
In 2018, through Endless Opportunities, he started an accessible housing project for people living with disabilities. The idea for the project came from his own experience and lessons faced, a few years prior, when he explored the possibilities of living on his own. He had met many obstacles, including being turned down by landlords and ridiculed by those around him who undermined his ability to cook or look after himself. His organisation began renovating houses in Dzivarasekwa, a suburb located in Harare, to make housing more accessible, safe and convenient for people with disabilities and their caregivers. The houses renovated by the organisation are clear demonstrations of what can be achieved when responding to the needs of everyone, including people with disabilities.
Edmore has used the skills and knowledge, gained from the short course, to inform his work as an economist as well as his activities in the non-profit organisation. Through the organisation, he aims to create an inclusive society where people with disabilities are full participants. However, instead of just promoting independent living among people with disabilities, the organisation also addresses some of the challenges that people with disabilities face, namely lack of education, unemployment and social segregation. These challenges reduce one’s chances of being independent in adulthood.
Not only does Edmore embody the name of his organisation, but he continues to leverage opportunities which can help him improve his organisation as well as expose him to technology that enhances the living conditions for people with disabilities. The Australia Awards has enabled him to dream big for himself and his community. “Positive change is inevitable,” he says as he continues to advocate for people with disabilities to be viewed as individuals capable of living a full and healthy life.