Anne Marie’s journey: from exclusion to empowerment

HomeAnne Marie’s journey: from exclusion to empowerment

At the age of 41, Anne Marie is not just a devoted teacher but also an ardent advocate for people with disabilities. Driven by her own experiences and through her active participation in the We are Able! initiative and the Communal Community Development Committee (CCDC), she’s been instrumental in reshaping the community’s approach towards inclusivity.

Anne Marie’s journey underscores the profound impact of collective action and awareness, transforming societal views and uplifting those once overlooked into roles of leadership and influence.

A need for more inclusive governance

In the heart of Buganda commune, nestled within Cibitoke province of Burundi, Anne Marie stands as a beacon of hope and resilience. At 41, she is not only a dedicated teacher, but she’s also a proud member of the Communal Community Development Committee (CCDC) and a passionate advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.

Being a disabled person herself, her journey with the transformative We are Able!-programme began when she realized that the governance in her community was not inclusive. “Before, when a person with a disability came to the commune, people would ask, ‘What are you doing here?’,” she states. “But We are Able! aims to include and empower people with disabilities”.

Anne Marie believes in the power of collective action, especially at the commune level. “True change starts at the grassroots. By working hand-in-hand with the CCDC, we ensure that the concerns of every citizen, especially those with disabilities, are heard and addressed,” she explains.

Nothing about us, without us

The We are Able! programme has revolutionized the way in which people with disabilities are perceived and treated in the community. “There was a time when we were side-lined, even asked to leave meetings,” Anne Marie reflects. “But now, we are consulted, valued, and our needs are prioritized.”

Anne Marie’s personal life has been profoundly impacted by the “We Are Able!” programme as well. “Everything has changed for the better. I no longer have to commute long distances. I work in an environment that understands and supports my needs. Every day, I witness the progress we’ve made and am filled with hope for the future.”

In a society where people with disabilities were once seen as burdens, Anne Marie’s story is a testament to the power of awareness and capacity building. “Today, we are no longer outcasts. We are contributors, leaders, and changemakers,” she says with pride.

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