UWEZO Youth Empowerment

UWEZO Youth Empowerment is a youth led disabled persons organisation (DPO), run by and for young disabled people in Rwanda.

UWEZO’s mission is to enable children and youth with disabilities to regain their self-confidence and actively participate in society through developing skills and social integration. UWEZO, which means “ability”, was founded in 2010 by Bahati Satir Omar, who identified the need for a youth-led disability organisation working at the national level.

They advocate and raise awareness of equal rights and opportunities for children and youth with disabilities within Rwanda. Key areas of focus include skills and ICT training, peer support and mentoring, internship programme, education and advocacy.

UWEZO became partners with AbleChildAfrica in October 2016. Our first project together is piloting a model of mentoring between young people with disabilities and disabled children to tackle poor educational outcomes for disabled children in Rwanda.

As outlined in our Partnership Model, we are looking to support UWEZO with organisational development and capacity building. As we have built towards this partnership, our Director Jane Anthony and Programmes Manager Lauren Watters have both visited UWEZO and provided direct support in a range of areas from finance to monitoring and evaluation.

In Rwanda, disabled children comprise only 0.7% of all primary school students, and this rate drops further at secondary and university levels. It is estimated that 41% of disabled people in Rwanda are under 35, and only 33% of young people with disabilities that UWEZO surveyed in 2014 were in formal or informal employment, whilst 91% fell below the national poverty line.

Whilst Rwanda has a good track record of inclusive policies, such as mainstreaming disability in the national economic plan, many disabled children are still unable to access basic services and face stigma and discrimination.

AbleChildAfrica is currently working with UWEZO in the following area:

Raising Aspirations Project

AbleChildAfrica and UWEZO run a project in Muzanze, a rural district in the Northern Province, to raise the aspirations of disabled children in the community and support them in accessing education. The project also works with teachers and community members to raise their expectations of what disabled children can achieve.

The project uses an innovative mentoring approach where 30 disabled youth each mentor a disabled child (aged 7-16 years) who are either not attending school regularly or aren’t attending at all. The mentors provide 1-2-1 support for children to help with their school work and also to build communications skills and self-confidence.

Together AbleChildAfrica and UWEZO have identified the following next steps and are currently seeking funding to deliver the following activities:

Youth-Led Advocacy

AbleChildAfrica has worked with UWEZO to design a project to advocate for effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals for disabled children in Rwanda. This project will empower young disabled people to be the main drivers for inclusion, and find youth-led solutions.

Mentoring Project

AbleChildAfrica is working with UWEZO to pilot and develop the mentoring approach, looking towards a potential scale up to reach more disabled children.

If you would like to learn more about, get involved with or provide funding for any of the above projects please contact Lauren Watters, Programme Development Manager, on lauren@ablechildafrica.org.uk


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