How to Thrive in a World That is Not Built For You

#Baobab2020 Day 2 Plenary Session

Reported by Mahmoud Kanso, Mastercard Foundation Scholar

Speakers:

  • Christine Kirungi is a disability and gender activist. She is the Executive Director of the Uganda National Association of Cerebral Palsy (UNAC) and a Disability Inclusion Facilitator with Light for the World in Uganda
  • Ambrose Murangira is a leading disability advocate and Disability Inclusion Advisor with Light for the World.

View Ambrose and Christine’s stories.

Moderator:

  • Georgie Ndirangu is a Kenya-based multimedia broadcast journalist with BBC Africa.

“This is how you say ‘hello’.” With his beautiful gestures and amazing smile, Ambrose started his story-telling session with teaching us an inspiring word we use all the time. As his video goes along, Ambrose couldn’t but keep smiling to all the positive and warm messages where audience were reflecting on his super inspiring story.

Ambrose showing, moderator, Georgie, how to sign ‘hello’.

Emmanuela Alimlim shared, “quite inspiring, I have goosebumps all over my body. Well done, Ambrose.”

Eric Bizimana has confirmed, “Mr. Muranira’s resilience story and spirit of hard work has puzzled me and it’s hard to comprehend.”

Shoutouts continued from people who started to learn for their careers. Edith Horvey commented, “ This will help me a lot as a student teacher and as course I’m studying now. This should tell us that anyone at all can become disabled at any point at all in one’s life hence we should treat everyone equally. Ambrose, kudos for challenging the status quo”

“I am woman, I’m entitled to be mother, to be love and be loved. I’m a proud mother. When I got my pregnancy, most of my family members were against it. I’m a woman with a disability and I was supposed to live a man with a disability. This is the man I love and this is who loves me. You find that there are stereotypes still within the family and within the community. Doctors ask how did you manage to give birth. Doctors even have that negative attitude. They look at us like you don’t have the right because you have the disability. These action marginalize us. If didn’t know my rights, I could have quit but at the end my family had to accept this.”

“Sometimes the lack of support from people whom we expect support from can be harder than the problem itself.” Fatima Al Dirani commented on Christine Kirungi’s story when she was narrating the disbelief from members of her family members in her amazing potential.

I asked Christine Kirungi “Do you work to adjust systems that have failed you to be more engaged in society and through your life, or you train others to get adapted to the current systems?”

She beautifully answered: “Yes, in my position, we have a project in Uganda that is the first project that provides daily care for kids with severe disability. Those children have ability and they need support. We are nurturing those children to be able to do activities for themselves. We also sit with their families, we counsel, we give them support, we encourage them so that they don’t give up on their children. The parent is the lawyer, the doctor, the first person to defend a child with disability. We are also trying our best to focus on formal and non-formal education. Those who can’t make it to the classroom can also benefit from the non-formal education.”

I could not personally think of any more support and better tools mentioned to provide a more inclusive and enhanced system and environment.