Support People with Down Syndrome in Rwanda

by Down Syndrome International
Support People with Down Syndrome in Rwanda
People at World Down Syndrome Day event
People at World Down Syndrome Day event

Hi everyone, I just wanted to give you an update on some of the main activities happening in Rwanda in the last few months.

Employment advocacy work

The group of self-advocates with Down syndrome and Rwanda Down Syndrome Organisation (RDSO) staff have been busy meeting with key stakeholders from the government and private sector to advocate for their right to employment.

World Down Syndrome Day celebration

RDSO organised an event for World Down Syndrome Day on 25th March. World Down Syndrome Day is a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012. Read more about WDSD here.

The event was attended by over 100 people including people with Down syndrome, families, and representatives from different organisations in Rwanda. 15 self-advocates with Down syndrome spoke at the event about how they want to be a part of Rwanda society through sport, employment and education.

Fundraising support

We are working to support RDSO to develop a fundraising strategy. This is important to help them make a plan for how to raise the funds they need to sustain the organisation and keep making a positive impact in Rwanda for people with Down syndrome.

 

Thank you very much everyone for your continued support, RDSO has grown so much as an organisation and achieved so much in the last few years!

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Eric, Fidelia and Imena
Eric, Fidelia and Imena

Happy New Year to all of our fantastic supporters! Looking back over the year 2021, I think we should be proud of all our progress in Rwanda despite the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Rwanda Down Syndrome Organisation (RDSO) faced lockdowns throughout the year but adapted and responded to every challenge.

They set up the first self-advocacy group for people with Down syndrome in Rwanda, which has met regularly throughout the year. The group called itself 'Hirwa', meaning 'Blesses', and has practised speaking up about their human rights.

In September, three members of the self-advocacy group, Eric, Fidelia, Imena, led a webinar about inclusive employment in Rwanda. They talked about their right to employment, their work ambitions for the future, and why having a job is important to them. Eric would like to work in an office for the government while Fidelia already works in her parents' hardware store.

RDSO also worked with the group to make an employment advocacy plan for work to be carried out in 2022. They will be reaching out to policymakers, employers, family members and other key stakeholders throughout the year.

RDSO also continued their important work supporting children with Down syndrome and their families across the country.

Thank you very much to all of our supporters! Your support made the work we do possible and ensured 2021 was such a success despite the challenging circumstances.

We look forward to achieving even more in 2022 together!

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Self-advocacy group and boy with Down syndrome
Self-advocacy group and boy with Down syndrome

There has been more excellent work happening in Rwanda since our last report, with COVID-19 restrictions being lifted and the Rwanda Down Syndrome Organisation (RDSO) able to meet in person again.

RDSO shared a success story of someone who has benefited from their work:

This is Joshua (above right), a 5-year-old boy with Down Syndrome from Kigali, Rwanda. When his mother first brought him to the RDSO office he could not walk and the physiotherapy sessions needed to help him learn were unaffordable. The RDSO team advocated for the local government authority to assist the family and last year he received a month of physiotherapy sessions. Now he can walk independently and RDSO staff are working with the family to find an adequate school and financial assistance to allow him to start attending.

RDSO received a visit from Simon, our Programme Fellow who is based in Uganda. While in Kigali, Simon met with RDSO's self-advocacy group for people with Down syndrome and delivered some training for them, focusing on the right to be included in the community and the right to employment.

Simon also met with RDSO staff and discussed the challenges they are facing as an organisation. One key challenge identified is fundraising, so we are planning to do some training for them and support them to produce a fundraising strategy.

Thank you to everyone who has generously supported this project! We will send you another update soon.

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Self-advocates with Down syndrome
Self-advocates with Down syndrome

The Rwanda Down Syndrome Organisation (RDSO) has been very busy since our last update, despite various different COVID-19 restrictions being in place.

The group has met 5 times in the past few motnhs, covering topics including an introduction to human rights, the right to education, and the right to employment. The group also picked a name for their group, 'Hirwa', meaning 'Blesses'.

The next step for the group will be to develop an advocacy plan for advocating for employment opportunities, with support from RDSO. People with Down syndrome make excellent employees but are not yet being given opportunities in Rwanda, due to discrimination and underestimations of their abilities. We believe that people with Down syndrome themselves make the best advocates, as they can speak from the heart of their aspirations and the barriers they experience.

One of the group members, Eric, is working with us to develop a webinar on employment in Rwanda. He will be interviewing other people with Down syndrome in Rwanda to understand their work aspirations and obstacles they face. They will develop a webinar which will be delivered to employers, policy makers, family members, and other key stakeholders when trying to promote the employment of people with Down syndrome.

We would like to say a big thank you to all of you who have donated to this project! Your generous donations enable RDSO to continue this important work empowering people with Down syndrome in Rwanda, with support from us.

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Practicing COVID-19 safe greetings
Practicing COVID-19 safe greetings

2020 was a hard year for persons with Down syndrome and their families in Rwanda, as in much of the world. Funds raised via GlobalGiving have enabled the Rwanda Down Syndrome Organisation (RDSO) to continue its essential work supporting persons with Down syndrome through these difficult times.

In October RDSO ran a training on COVID-19 for people with Down syndrome, including learning about social distancing and other ways to reduce the risk of transmission. They also distributed masks and hand sanitiser to those attending, resources which are difficult for many to purchase due to high costs.

DSi has been running online training for RDSO and members organisations from other African countries on human rights and advocacy. Now RDSO has formed a self-advocacy group of persons with Down syndrome, who will come together to learn about and advocate for their rights. Two of the group members attended an event to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December, representing their group and other persons with Down syndrome in the country.

Thank you to everyone who has donated to this project. Your donations enable RDSO to continue their crucial work supporting persons with Down syndrome and advocating for their rights to be fulfilled!

Group members on International Disability Day
Group members on International Disability Day
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Organization Information

Down Syndrome International

Location: Teddington - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @DSiupdate
Project Leader:
Nathan Rowe
Teddington, United Kingdom
$2,969 raised of $5,000 goal
 
107 donations
$2,031 to go
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