‘Now, I cultivate my own field without any hindrance, feeling accepted by my community.’

An example of a story of change through the WaA! program in DR Congo.

The story of Mr. Barabara is one of the many ‘Stories of Change’ through the We are Able! program in DR Congo. The combined approach of outreach to communities, collaborating with organizations of persons with disabilities, and (local) authorities has had a profound impact on the food security of persons with disabilities.

What is your name and how did you get in contact with the We are Able! program?

My name is Mr. Barabara; I am 75 years old and live in the village of Kinji. It is located near Muziri, where the We Are Able! project carries out various activities. In 2021, Disability Inclusion Facilitators began raising awareness in the community about the rights of people with disabilities, including inheritance and land rights. I was very encouraged by this message. You have to know that I am missing parts of both feet, as a result of leprosy, and a long time ago people around me started to exclude me, and I began to doubt myself. I thought I was worthless. Because of this I decided to withdraw into my house. That lasted for years!

What changed for you?

When the Disability Inclusion Facilitators came and explained about land rights, I wanted to take immediate action. Especially because ten years ago, I bought a field with my brother; unfortunately, he passed away a few months later. His son then took over the field, claiming that I couldn’t cultivate it properly due to my disability.

In April 2023, I approached community leaders. With the support of organizations within “We Are Able!”, the organisation OPALCO* and the community leaders, I filed a complaint with the village chief. Fortunately, he was already informed and made aware on inclusion and the rights of people with disabilities. Everyone did their utmost to advocate for my case, and later in 2023, my land rights were restored. As a result, I could register my field with the land registry office.

Now, I cultivate my own field without any hindrance, feeling accepted by my community. The manioc (cassava) and maize harvest will improve the family income and food security.

*the organization of persons affected by leprosy in DR Congo