Read this great blog from Josephine Namirimu, Young Voices campaigner from Uganda, about her experiences growing up as a girl with disabilities in Uganda. You can read more blogs and stories for the International Day of the Girl Child on Leonard Cheshire Disability’s main website.
Young Voices campaigners continue to make striking impact while campaigning for the promotion, protection and respect of the rights of persons with disabilities and ensuring the creation of a barrier free world. At the Global Meeting held in Kenya, Nairobi from the 22nd – 25th October 2013 – Young Voices were able to share their successes, challenges, and ideas to boost and sustain their course of action. Here are some of their main successes of positive changes and plans for the future.
As a direct result of Young Voices campaign, advocacy, and lobbying activities in various nations such as Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Uganda, and the Philippines, Young Voices campaigners have experienced positive changes in their individual lives and as a group. In Mauritius many secured employment, acquired professional and vocational skills, and those disabled from birth received free life medical certificates. In Zimbabwe the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was ratified, Inclusive Education and persons with disabilities have become a priority. In Uganda, Young Voices members received vocational training through networking and dialogue with various stakeholders, and many have been opening their own businesses.
Young Voices meetings in many nations have created a family bond between the members which has resulted in them sharing successes, challenges, ideas, and experiences. One of the Young Voices campaigners had the following to say: “When we started our Young Voices activities most of us did not have confidence in ourselves, nor were we able to express ourselves. We were like strangers to each other, but now all that is water under the bridge. I can even talk to the President.” This has also resulted in Young Voices having confidence, faith in themselves and being motivated to continue to stand and speak out where persons with disabilities matter.
Various factors and campaign activities contributed to the attainment of the aforementioned achievements. These included public engagements where Young Voices use artistic means such as songs, dramas, dances and motivational speeches to communicate their course. In some countries Young Voices conduct press conferences and sometimes dialogue with government institutions and officials. Other activities include regular meetings, awareness campaigns, and social media to mention but a few.
Much has been done but still more remains hence Young Voices from various nations have put forward several means, ideas, and approaches to sustain their campaigning activities. This includes effective and efficient use of media communication, especially basic ones such as social media networks, mobile phones, and networking and partnering with other disability organizations, NGOs and Youth Groups.
Young Voices campaigners have pledged to continue conducting their regular meetings and facilitating partnerships with the government. Above all they will continue making a clarion call to the whole world to chip in in this humane cause, so that together we can make the world a better place for all, with or without a disability.
Leonard Cheshire Disability Young Voices, a group of young persons with disabilities, gathered in Nairobi, Kenya for their global meeting on 23rd – 25th October 2013. This meeting was attended by 22 young people with disabilities from different countries around the globe. The aim of the meeting was to “advocate and campaign to remove all the barriers that hinder an inclusive and accessible society for all”.
As part of the meeting, Young Voices campaigners shared changes and successes. Some of the campaigners said that the main change in their lives was greater confidence in themselves, when previously they felt that they had to hide.
According to Mr. Sadaati Namboobi, a 23 year old from Uganda: “lots of persons with disabilities have come out and advocated for their rights; this has improved the welfare of persons with disabilities in Uganda.”
According to Ms. Rukiatu Sheriff, 24, from Liberia, the factors that lead to those positive changes include the willingness of young people with disabilities to fight for rights: “We’ve come up to these changes because of the willingness of my colleagues to advocate and campaign for our rights.” Rukiatu added.
In Indonesia, their campaigns were successful because of campaign spirit and dreams of the Young Voices there. Young Voices want to be counted and to be involved in any issues and events in the country. Mr. Sikmad form Indonesia said: “As a result of our campaigns, ramps were established for wheelchair users, signs were put up for people with hearing impairments, and personnel were hired to guide visually impaired people at malls and other public areas in Indonesia.”
Young Voices groups could be sustained in the future with support from Government or non-governmental organisations, for example Action for Disability Development or UNAPD in Uganda.
Members of Young Voices across the globe are urged to come together as groups should they need help from governments and Non Governmental Organizations operating in their countries.
This came after one member of Young Voices received a tailoring machine from Lillian Fond and Katalemwa Cheshire Home in Nansana town in Wakiso District, Uganda in July 2013.
Young Voices is a global campaign project of Leonard Cheshire Disability, implemented by young people with disabilities aged 16-25 years, to advocate for the recognition, protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities worldwide.
Harriet Nakimbugwe, a girl with a physical disability, underwent a six month course in tailoring and garment cutting at Nansana Vocational Training Centre.
She was advised by donor organizations that help is only recommended and available for those who are organised in groups and are ready to initiate projects that can help them lead sustainable lives in the future.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities clearly stipulates in Article 27 (d) that persons with disabilities should have effective access to general technical and vocational guidance programs, placement services and vocational and continuing training; and in Article 27 (e) that state parties should promote employment opportunities and career advancement for persons with disabilities in the labour market, as well as assistance in finding , obtaining, maintaining and returning to employment.
Nanziri, a Young Voices national facilitator from Uganda, told a Conference in Nairobi, Kenya that funds are available for those groups that are legally registered in their respective district headquarters.
Sadaati, also a member of Young Voices in the country, said this initiative has so far helped to change the lives of members. According to Sadaati, lobbying through attending public fora and debates has been the main campaign tool that has helped bring about the anticipated changes in the lives of members of Young Voices in Uganda and has yielded a dignified lifestyle amongst members.
In the run up to International Women’s Day on March 8th we are posting the stories of some of our inspirational female Young Voices campaigners. Here’s Josephine’s story:
Josephine is the sixth of seven children from a family in Uganda. She was raised by her mother after her father died when she was three. Shortly before her father’s death, Josephine became disabled due to polio.
She started going to primary school when she was five. Life at school wasn’t easy. She was stared at and whispered about by her classmates, and felt very alone. But for her, learning was fun, and she was determined to succeed.
After primary school, her mother sadly broke it to her that her education would have to come to an end as she couldn’t afford to send her to secondary school. However, Josephine wasn’t ready to give up on her education. In their search for a way to keep Josephine at school, they came across the Nkokonjeru Cheshire Home, who agreed to sponsor Josephine with the help of the Lillian Foundation.
Her new life started when she joined the Cheshire Home at the age of 15. With the Home’s support, she went to secondary school. She went on to University to study Business Administration, sponsored by the Government, graduating in January 2014.
In 2009, she joined Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Young Voices, a global network of young campaigners with disabilities. She became an advocate of change with a burning desire to make a difference and reduce the difficulties faced by disabled children in school. She knew that while she kept going despite so many challenges, many children with disabilities would give up on education due to the many challenges they face at school.
Through Young Voices she has taken part in many successful campaigns and her confidence has greatly increased. She led a group of five young voices members who successfully lobbied for a ramp to be constructed for the Catholic Church in their community. At University she successfully ran for the post of Guild Representative Council for people with disabilities. She used this post to come up with new ways to get the voices of students with disabilities heard, such as an awareness raising week.
One of the best moments in her life was when she was given the opportunity through Leonard Cheshire Disability to come to London and work shadow Lynne Featherstone, the UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development. She was very inspired to meet with someone who shared her passion for disability and gender issues. The experience has motivated her even more to strive to achieve great things and make a difference for women and people with disabilities in Uganda and around the world.
Josephine is very happy with what she has achieved so far. But she feels that her journey has just started, and she hopes to continue her studies, specialising in gender. Her message to all women on International Women’s Day, especially for those with disabilities is:
“It is possible; it only takes passion, determination, persistence and prayer. You can become that important figure that you have admired all your life. The challenges that you meet along the way can always be overcome.”
Big congratulations to Young Voices campaigner Josephine Namirimu from Uganda, who has just graduated with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration from Makerere University Business School. To celebrate her graduation, she plans to go one of the Cheshire homes in Uganda with some fellow students. They hope to encourage and inspire the children with disabilities who live there to achieve great things in education.
Young Voices campaigner Josephine Namiriru has just been in London to work shadow Lynne Featherstone, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development. Watch this video to hear about her trip and her message to other Young Voices campaigners around the world.
Here’s Young Voices campaigner Josephine Namiriru from Uganda with Lynne Featherstone, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development. Josephine is in London this week to work shadow Lynne. They talked about the importance of addressing gender and disability in the post-2015 development agenda.
Josephine Namiriru, a Young Voices campaigner from Uganda, will be in London next week to work shadow Lynne Featherstone, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development. We’ll be posting updates about her trip on this site.