Young Voices: a team effort

This article was put together by Young Voices campaigners during the 2013 Young Voices Global meeting in Kenya.

Young Voices is all about awakening young people to know and fight for their rights at local, national and international levels, so as to harmonize the various laws of the land in line with United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Young Voices campaigners have gained so much experience such as communication skills, leadership skills, and door to door campaigns. The most important change in the lives of Young Voices members is that they have greater awareness of how to campaign using the UNCRPD. Sheku Feika from Sierra Leone says that as a result many people with disabilities have found gainful employment and have access to education and quality health services.

Theogene Iyakaremye from Rwanda says that the factors that have led to these successful campaigns is that Young Voices groups have been able to meet with policy makers, government ministries and NGOs to ensure that the UNCRPD is being implemented.

Being well-trained as campaigner and gaining confidence has been really important for Nyamizi S.Mhoja from Tanzania who has worked with policy makers, for example government, local chiefs, ministries, Districts and city councils. Young Voices in Tanzania persuaded the Minister of Health and Social Welfare to set up a committee on the rights of persons with disabilities to monitor the implementation of the UNCRPD.

Young Voices will continue to fight for their rights by pulling their efforts together as a team and advocating and campaigning about negative attitudes.

Editors: Sheku Feika, Iyakaremye Theogene; Nyamizi S. Mhoja; Shalini Rana.

Young Voices: walking the extra mile

This article was put together by Young Voices campaigners during the 2013 Young Voices Global meeting in Kenya.

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.

Editors: Jani, Sri Lanka; Leroy, Guyana; Yaseen, Mauritius; Precious, Zambia.

Posted in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia

A new committee for people with disabilities in Tanzania

Young Voices in Tanzania met with the Minister of Health and Social Welfare to advocate for a national committee for people with disabilities. The Minister listened to their views and has announced to parliament that a committee for people with disabilities will be established by the Ministry before the end of the year.

Young Voices campaigner speaks at launch of UNICEF report in Brussels

Michael Hosea, a Young Voices campaigner from Tanzania, spoke via teleconference at the launch of UNICEF’s flagship report: ‘The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities’.

The launch took place in Brussels and was attended by 100 people from various EU institutions, Belgian Institutions and civil society. Attendees, including the Princess of Belgium, found his speech very moving, and were impressed by his courage and determination.

Michael is one of three Young Voices members to be featured in UNICEF’s report. Michael has albinism. In the report he tells of the horrific discrimination and abuse experienced by his family and other people with albinism in Tanzania.

Young Voices speak out in landmark UNICEF report

Young Voices campaigners shared their views as part of a major new report published on 30 May 2013.

UNICEF’s ‘The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities’ provides a comprehensive overview of the global situation for children with disabilities, recommending ways that governments, the private sector, international donors and other agencies can achieve greater equality for disabled children through inclusion.

The report features the stories of three Young Voices members who have overcome challenges to make positive changes to their own lives and the lives of other people with disabilities. They are Kartik Sawhney from India, Michael Hosea from Tanzania and Ivory Duncan from Guyana.

The study also includes an article by Dr Maria Kett from the Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Research Centre, on the protection and safety of children with disabilities in situations of risk.

Campaigning success: making university accommodation accessible

A Young Voices member studying at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) was allocated by the university to a third floor dormitory. However, he has a physical disability and uses a wheelchair. Together with his fellow Young Voices members he spoke to the University Board and wrote a number of letters to the University administration. Following this advocacy, not only has he been re-allocated to the ground floor, but the university has adopted a policy that students with disabilities will be allocated rooms on the ground floor. The next step for the Young Voices group in Tanzania is to make sure that this policy is properly implemented, and is also adopted by other universities and higher learning institutions in Tanzania.

Young Voices meet minister for constitution

After two months of skills training, the new Young Voices group in Dodoma, Tanzania, met the minister for constitution and national law to lobby for the implementation of the Disability Act 2010. Members then went on to meet with members of parliament and raise awareness of the act by speaking on talk shows on local radio station Mwangaza Radio.

Young Voices expands to 21 countries

Welcome to Papua New Guinea, Tanzania and Canada. These three countries from three different continents expressed interest in joining the project and will become active in early 2011. Canada is the first northern country to join Young Voices and Canadian members already learned about the project first-hand when they joined fellow members from Liberia and the Philippines, as well as Leonard Cheshire Disability staff, at a side event at the UN Conference of States Parties to the UNCRPD in September 2010.