Back in 2021 you may remember we launched our Natwe Turashoboye (We Can Also) programme in Rwanda, working with partners EmCD and MindLeaps and kindly backed by Comic Relief. The vital programme is helping to protect and equip deaf girls against sexual abuse.
Thanks to your kind generosity the project has flourished! You have helped to support 126 children build their self esteem, feel safe in their own community and you have helped 136 parents learn sign language so they can better communicate with their children!
Elie Kwizerimana our Chance for Childhood’s Inclusion Trainer in Rwanda explains the importance of inclusion in children’s education and changing discriminatory attitudes towards gender and disability.
Deaf or hearing impaired (D/deaf) people in Rwanda experience a range of complex issues which can limit their fundamental human rights. This can be anything from social, economic, cultural, and developmental challenges to negative societal views surrounding disability and communication limitations.
Stigma and discrimination affect D/deaf people’s access to jobs and education and their attainment of dignity and a sense of unity.
Rwanda National Union of the D/deaf (RNUD) is dedicated to advocating for equal opportunities and human rights of D/deaf Rwandans. But, the need for more community understanding is enormous and needs intervention from many organisations.
Many people in Rwanda still struggle to understand gender equity, equality, and inclusion for people with disabilities. D/deaf girls confront both gender and disability-related discrimination.
Funded by Comic Relief, Chance for Childhood has established groundbreaking techniques to increase D/deaf Girls’ inclusion, engagement, and protection in Rwanda through the “we can also” project.
These are inclusive dances that bring together D/deaf girls and their hearing peers and raise awareness among community members about the rights of children with disabilities. We also deliver inclusive messages in public primary schools and provide inclusive safeguarding training to teachers. We do all of this in partnership with Empowering Children with disabilities (EmCD) and MindLeaps (ML)Organizations.
As a result, inclusive dance improved the self-esteem of D/deaf girls. They now perform their dances confidently in public, and some of them have started conveying messages about their rights in community forums. They are safe and secure in the communities where we taught about the rights of children with disabilities, and negative attitudes about them are changing.
13 year old Aime
My non deaf peers are learning more sign language every day, so communication becomes easier as we both learn. Learning with deaf peers here helps me a lot. I feel happier and included. It is easy to communicate, play, dance and interact together.
Before coming here, I did not know that I or other children have the right to education. So far, I have learnt to become resilient.
I have also learnt the importance of supporting one another. I think this is heightened because this is an inclusive school.
I want deaf girls to have access to justice if they have had their rights abused, so that we can all live a protected and safer life.
Lack of awareness on inclusive safeguarding by education actors has been identified as one of major underlying causes children experiencing disabilities, particularly D/deaf girls, face like various forms of abuse in schools, including bullying, among others.
The safety and protection of every child in schools increased after we trained district and sector education officials, head teachers and teachers from the schools we work with. Teachers have become crucial mobilizers in communities, encouraging families to send their children experiencing disabilities to school. In each of the ten schools we work with, student clubs have been founded to promote inclusion.
Involving local leaders and other service providers, such as health and child protection officers, in our program has made a significant contribution to the provision of inclusive services to D/deaf girls in Nyabihu District. This achievement was made possible by reducing communication and attitudinal barriers that exist between D/deaf girls and service providers.
Service providers like health and child protection workers were supported to break the stereotypes and traditional beliefs through inclusive safeguarding and Rwandan Sign Language training, which in turn, helped them to provide inclusive services to D/D/deaf girls in their daily services.
All of this has been accomplished in only one district of Rwanda. There is a strong need for us to expand our intervention on a larger scale so that every D/deaf girl in Rwanda can fully enjoy her fundamental human rights.
Elie Kwizerimana is a Chance for Childhood Inclusion Trainer. His background is primarily in Special Needs and Inclusive Education. He is an overseas member of The British Association of Teachers of the Deaf (BATOD). He is eager to challenge a society that still views disability as a taboo, resulting in discrimination towards Children with disabilities.