The Rwanda Union of Blinds is requesting employers in the country to ensure inclusion of visually impaired persons in various programmes such as social activities, public works and other income generating activities, among others.
The call was made on Friday, March 8, 2019 in Bugesera District, Eastern Province of Rwanda where thousands of residents gathered to celebrate the International Women’s Day under the theme: “Together, Let’s Build a Safe Family.”
The ceremony held in Rilima Sector of Bugesera District level was graced by various officials from the village level to the National level.
The Rwanda Union of Blinds delegated a Team led by Dr. Mukarwego Betty, Head of the National Committee of Women with Visual impairments, who emphasized that “Despite being visually impaired, Blinds persons’ disabilities do not mean that these persons can’t do work like other people”.
Dr. Mukarwego gave an example of herself, noting that she is a Doctor and a Lecturer at the University of Rwanda and since when she started has never faced challenges as many are misled that “People with Visual impairment are unable people”
“Disability is not inability,” she says.
“In past years people used to consider us worthless, but President Kagame has given us the value we deserve, it’s up to employers also to shift from that mantra of undermining people with disability and employ them.” Dr. Mukarwego said.
To emphasize the call, RUB has chosen its own theme for the International Women’s Day which is “Dufatane Urunana Twubake Umuryango Udaheza Abafite Ubumuga” translated in English as “Together, Let’s Build a Safe Family which is not excluding People with Disabilities .”
Persons with disabilities make up a significant part in Rwanda where the Overall, 446,453 persons with disabilities aged 5 and above are living in Rwanda according to the 2012 Census, out of which 221,150 are males and 225,303 are females.
So far, there are about 1,450 visually impaired men and women registered with RUB who are in constant contact with the office.
However there are about 3,500 members but most of them have not kept in regular contact due to limited means or other family reasons as a number of families prefer to keep them out of the public reach.
“If there are some people who are hiding the visually impaired family members, please bring them! They are people like others; there is no stigma for being blinds. We are people like others and we are able to work like others.” Dr. Mukarwego said.
She added that “We don’t have eyes, but we have other senses. We touch written words and discover what is written, we can speak and for that reason there is no need to exclude us in any opportunities.”
Over time, the RUB strengthens and extends the scope of its activities by establishing branches in almost all districts of the country.
Currently, RUB has 58 well-established branches in 30 districts of Rwanda with its headquarter in Kigali City, Nyarugenge District, Muhima Sector on Poids -Lourds Road.
RUB envisages having a situation where all necessary services for people with visual impairment are provided as a right of the individual and hope to see education and employment opportunities as well as all other welfare services being as available to those who are visually impaired as they are to all other citizens.
Most of the organizational activities are based on advocacy work which aims at supporting Rwandan people living with visual impairment in a wide range of situations, including cases where people have been denied their right to education, to work, to live independently, to access a good standard of healthcare and to enjoy participating in family and community life.