Young Voices campaigner Wanja Maina from Kenya has set up a new facebook page, Disableds of Nairobi. The page will tell the human story of disabled people – please take a look, like and share!
By Nicole Mballah, Young Voices campaigner from Kenya (pictured far right, with fellow campaigners Sara, Argie and Leroy)
In June I was given the wonderful opportunity to attend the Global Partnership for Education replenishment conference held in Brussels, Belgium. This was an inspirational and empowering event for me.
I had the chance to prepare a one page speech on inclusive education and present it during a panel session at the conference. As a young campaigner who advocates for the right to education for persons with disabilities I was able to share the many struggles we go through when accessing education. It is the right of every child regardless of their gender, sexuality, race, or disability to gain an education. We need the help of the community as well as the Government to ensure there are accessible structures and trained teachers for the dream of inclusive education to become a reality.
I was very happy to see a great number of people at the conference taking their time to truly understand the importance of education and give their support to ensure every child has the opportunity to learn. It was even more inspiring that we as young people were given an opportunity to speak openly about what needs to be done and represent the thousands of young people whose voices cannot be heard.
It was amazing to meet so many people who were passionate about disability issues, and to hear inspirational stories from people like Leroy Philips, Young Voices campaigner from Guyana, proving that even with his disability, he was able to gain an education and pave the way for many others. It was an experience I was always cherish.
Young Voices campaigners Leroy from Guyana, Argie from the Philippines and Nicole from Kenya are in Brussels this week for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Replenishment Conference. Leroy will be speaking on the opening panel and they will also be moderating a session on inclusive education. Find out more.
Watch Young Voices campaigners Ashura from Kenya, Tongai from Zimbabwe and Kartik from India speaking in this really inspiring Activate session organised by UNICEF on ‘Youth with disabilities and innovation: making the world inclusive for all‘. The Young Voices campaigners were in New York last week for the Conference of States Parties to the UNCRPD.
Have you noticed people just like you but different in some way living with you in your communities? Most of you know them as people with disabilities. So what’s special about them, you might ask. And I tell you they are special because they have an equality to earn. They should walk the extra mile to win their rights, and they should talk more about themselves to earn their living.
That’s why they have organised themselves globally as Young Voices for a collective effort to earn what they deserve to live in our own communities equally. So let’s look at some great achievements in three countries around the world.
Let’s begin with Nyamizi from Tanzania, a vibrant youngster who wants to be heard. She has just graduated from the University of Mzumbe, Morogoro. According to her, the biggest change her group experienced was the boost of confidence and the empowering
awareness of the rights of the people with disabilities as set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
This has enabled them to meet employers like NCSS in her country and invoke awareness in them regarding the employability of the young persons with disabilities. She and her friends think that meeting the stakeholders that are responsible for making their lives better in various ways personally and convincing them about the possibilities of including persons with disabilities in their daily life is the best way to campaign in her country.
The way forward for Tanzanian youngsters with disabilities, she says, is an attempt to continue their activities with the help of people in their community who can contribute towards sustaining the social incorporation of young people.
Precious from Zambia has a different story to tell. She considers advocacy to be the central element of their success in the signing, ratifying and implementation of the legal framework for people with disabilities in her country. They have TV and radio programs in their local stations to educate the public about their rights and achievements as well. In this way she and her friends have eradicated discrimination in her community quite effectively.
Ashura from Kenya has her own achievements to share with us. As an individual she has won the Miss Deaf Kenya in her modeling career. This was in fact an opportunity that was opened to her through the advocacy campaigns of Young Voices Kenya. Consequently she is now confident to stand stronger in emphasizing the rights of persons with disabilities in her country. She believes that the most effective factor in campaigning is showing the power of persons of disabilities through example. However, Kenyan young people with disabilities are going to sustain their efforts of retaining their rights through continual advocacy campaigns and country-wide awareness.
The stories of these three individuals could indeed be an inspiration as well as an enlightening experience for all of us who dare to fight for our rights.
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 Ashura’s story:
Ashura is 21 years old and has a hearing impairment. She recently attained a Diploma in Law from Inoorero University Nairobi. An ambitious lawyer in the making, she is a passionate advocate for the rights of people with hearing impairments and other disabilities in Kenya.
She has taken part in many campaigning activities, including leading a group of Young Voices campaigners to visit the Communication Commission of Kenya and advocate for sign language interpretation services during news segments on television. She also ensured that during the Kenya at 50 years celebrations there was a professional interpreter in the stadium and in local television stations.
Ashura was recently crowned as Miss Deaf Kenya 2013/2014. She has been travelling around the country sharing information on disability and assuring young girls that disability should not come in the way of achieving their dreams.
Last August, Ashura travelled to London to work shadow Cherie Blair QC. This opportunity came about as a result of a letter from our Chief Executive, Clare Pelham, who wrote to Cherie Blair and a number of other inspirational women in the UK on International Women’s Day last year, asking if it would be possible for a young disabled woman to shadow them for a day.
Ashura, as the only Deaf law student at her university in Nairobi, was excited about meeting with a prominent barrister with so much experience of human rights law. She said: “Cherie told me that nothing should be done about disability without involving people with disabilities”.
Young Voices campaigner Wanja Maina will be on the panel for the Guardian newspaper’s live online Q&A on disability and development on Thursday 13th February at 1pm GMT. Dr Raymond Lang from the Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre will also taking part.
You can join in, ask questions and post your views too via this link from 1pm – 3pm, Thursday 13th February.