An interview with Agnes, sensitizer for We are Able! in DRC

By The Leprosy Mission (consortium member of WaA!)

Agnes works as sensitizer in the We Are Able! (WaA!) Project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). She is active in awareness raising campaigns in the community and more specific in the villages in the WaA! project area on the Island of Idjwi. Agnes explains what she’s been up to, and why this project is so important to her.

What kind of activities have been carried out?

To this date, three awareness raising activities have been caried out on the Island of Idjwi:

1. On the rights of persons living with a disability, and the link to human rights in general.

2. One on disability inclusion in the community, e.g. right to schooling access to social services and right to participate.

3. On heritage practices, as persons living with a disability and persons affected by leprosy are often excluded as heirs when parents decease.

Why is this project so important for you?

It is very relevant because persons living with a disability have rights. After the awareness raising session persons living with a disability became more visible in the communities. That makes me happy. Local authorities but also other community members started to work with organisations of persons with disabilities and started to invite persons living with a disability directly by asking for their participation in social events. This is very important for us. 

Does gender play a role in this?

Being a woman and having a disability does make a big difference. Rights of women are being violated more often than the rights of men. Also, the chances for employment of a woman with a disability are less than for a man. I was lucky as my family supported me. I can generate income through a small outlet, selling food items like oil and rice and beans. I also work as a hair dresser.

What motivates you to be involved in this project?

I wanted to work in this project because I hope that more persons living with a disability will be able to participate in society. Over the last period of time I had a few very motivating experiences. I returned to a village where I went before with some other sensitizers. I saw that a couple of families now let their children with disabilities play outside in the open, whereas previously these children were kept inside. Some of these children now even go to school, where previously it was said that this was of no use. These types of changes in attitude in the community make me very motivated to continue!