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As a person living with disabilities, Uwase never let that hold her back

At the age of three, Uwase Maimuna’s family discovered that their child was going to be living with a disability. She could not hear and therefore not speak. This did not mean they would give up on her.

Uwase continued with primary school and advanced to secondary school, and her parents did everything possible to ensure that her disability would not be an obstacle in her development, including helping her learn sign language.

Although she was able to study, it was not an easy journey for her as she had no interpreter in her schools, which made it difficult for her to follow the lessons properly.

In society, there’s a mindset that people with disabilities can’t achieve anything, leading to exclusion and creating a sense of worthlessness. However, Uwase didn’t let this affect her. She adopted a broader mindset, choosing to ignore those who doubted her abilities and instead pursued her dreams.

Uwase says that she encountered many who discouraged her, telling her that she wouldn’t achieve anything because of her disability.

She says, “I studied, but you see people with disabilities not progressing, and others say ‘those are dumb, they are useless.’ Such comments hurt us.”

Uwase is one of the coffee processors at Stafford Coffee Shop in Musambira. This is a profession she loves, and her employers appreciate her productivity.

Her diligence is attributed to the training she received from the Rwanda National Union of the Deaf (RNUD) in juice and coffee processing.

In 2021, Rubagumya Stafford wanted to employ people with the disability of being mute to contribute to society and support them further.

Uwase says that when she started working, she was timid, but interacting with various people helped her gain confidence.

She recounts, “When I started working, I was timid, but seeing that we were given instructions, I decided to stop being timid and join the training. Others without disabilities were initially afraid of us, but we gradually became familiar with each other and developed just like them.”

During her time working in coffee processing, she affirms that it has been beneficial as she has been able to become self-sufficient without asking for help.

She states, “Now I can take care of my child, pay for their school, and solve some family problems because I have a job.”

“I want to be self-employed and contribute so that people with disabilities can progress, showing that we are capable. We can do what our employer has done, and we are grateful to him.”

Despite her achievements, Uwase mentions that there are still challenges in exclusion and communication barriers for people with disabilities, urging the government to focus on teaching sign language.”

Straight out of Twitter