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African Politics and Policy Interview with Jean Louis Uwambaza, founder of I AM ABLEFoundation, Rwanda

Could you please introduce yourself and the organization you work in?

Yes, for sure! I am Jean Louis Uwambaza and a citizen of Rwanda. I am the founder and current leader of a child-care organization named “I am Able Foundation”, (IAF) in short. IAF looks after the children living with disabilities in Kigali.  I lead a small team of young people that serves and volunteers their time to ensure that the works of my organization are well performed to create positive impacts for the children living with disabilities on a daily basis.

How was born the idea to set up I am able Foundation? Do you get any governmental/international support?

While growing up, I have been living together with the people that experienced a life of hardship. Being raised by a poor family at the small village town; and living in a quick transforming society that experienced the consequences of the 1994 Genocide, my only dream was to become a kind of that human person who tries to better support the people in need at his community. And I started running IAF in November 2016, but some of the reasons behind the creation of this growing initiative was due to the commitment, inspiration and motivation from the other young dynamic and experienced Rwandans that work tirelessly to transform lives. After graduating at the National University of Rwanda, and with a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Bio-organic chemistry, I sought an audience together with some of the amazing and encouraging people, and they were quite amazed by my willingness to creating an organization that could possibly bring about social transformation, specifically for the children living with disabilities. For example, thanks for a help, one of them has recently helped my organization to benefit a lot from the 6 month-servant leadership mentorship program provided by UK-based organization in cooperation with a Rwandan-based social enterprise. The kind of supports that IAF receive or provide today comes from its team members as well as from a few number of partners being both personal and private assistances.

Could you please tell us what are the challenges and dangers that people with disabilities face in Africa? What are the forms of discrimination the children face?

Discrimination and self-stigmatization could be some of the challenges and dangers that people living with disabilities face in Africa and anywhere else. Being a person born without a physical or mental capacity may lead to so many struggles: you can be discriminated by other people in a very harmful, marginalized, vulnerable, and abandoned manner. However, discriminating the people living with disabilities may further lead themselves to loneliness which could possibly bring about “self-stigmatization”. Some of the forms of discrimination faced by children living with disabilities include: inequalities, bad punishments, harassment, separation, etc.

How do you think, what is the best way to overcome negative attitude of the society toward children living with disabilities?

Any kind of education could be used as a tool to change some of the people’s mindsets, on behalf of the children’s living with disabilities, and to achieve sustainability. For example, using public-speaking debates or playing a kind of theaters to an interested if not invited audience could be a simple example of the best way to overcome negative attitudes.

What projects/activities does I am able Foundation organize? What are your main achievements and disappointments for the moment?

IAF organize the activities on the fight against discrimination of children living with disabilities as well as empowerment of the families of children with disabilities.

Our main achievements include: recognizing IAF as a Rwandan not-for-profit organization, selecting a limited number of families of children living with disabilities, sponsoring the children living with disabilities to attend schools, teaching sign languages to the parents of children living with autism disability, organizing training and workshops with different groups of people living with disabilities, participation to public events, and receiving the support from our sponsors and partners.

IAF’s disappointment may be of being a small organization trying to learn a great experience about building the capacities and finding a better way get different supports needed by every single organization.

As a founder of I am able Foundation, how do you seek to promote the integration of children with disabilities into society?

A few days after creating IAF, I’ve been trying to find a better way to work with team members on a sustainable solution on discrimination and stigmatization, faced by the children living with disabilities in Kigali, that could be suggested to some of the policymakers for themselves to work collaboratively with us for a very quick support to our people. Until now, I am still struggling positively to end up with my suggestion before presenting it to other people of concern.

How does the channel between the organization and children work? Do parents contact you, or does Foundation do a special investigation?

As per now, we organize some meetings on a regular basis with selected families of children living with disabilities and they come to us at the IAF premises.  

What is the greatest lesson you have learned so far as an activist?

I learned to do what I can do better. I also learned to be like a contributing voice for the discriminated or stigmatized children because of their personalities!

How can our readers get involved in the various programs you offer? and how can African Politics and Policy be helpful to you?

Any reader of APP who may become interested with the works being done by I am Able Foundation can please write to: iamablefoundation@yahoo.com  or call us on: + 250 787 687 343. APP can continue to be helpful by promoting the works that we do for some of the children of Rwanda via its social media platforms.

Dear Jean Louis, do you have anything to add on or to share with us we forgot to mention? Please feel free to speak your mind.

I very much appreciate this offer for me f to talk about myself and my works. Special thanks to the African Politics and Policy for being a source of information for some of the African organization that seeks to make Africa be a great continent.

Thank you!

Contact details:

http://www.amablefoundation.org/

https://www.facebook.com/iamablefoundation/

iamablefoundation@yahoo.com

+ 250 787 687 343

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