Sometimes, the biggest barriers people with disabilities (PWDs) encounter are other people’s beliefs and assumptions. If a person considers another individual to be ‘deviant’ from what they consider to be the ‘norm,’ that person will treat the ‘other’ negatively, including ignoring or discounting the other person’s existence. The behavior of others has given rise to a general stigma of disability as a deviance or defect rather than as a characteristic that is part of the human condition. Disability Awareness means educating people regarding the theme of disability and giving to the community the knowledge required to carry out positive and inclusive behaviors and practices. It is no longer enough to know that disability discrimination is unlawful.
One of the main activities of IBO Italia in Tanzania is to address the cultural causes that engage the marginalization and exclusion of persons and children with disabilities (CWDs), with a bottom-up and participatory approach involving communities.
Thanks to the contribution of the No One Left Behind (AID011901) project, funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, IBO Italia is promoting different activities that aim to raise awareness, fight the prejudice, and contrast social stigma on disability.
This page collects information on the awareness-raising initiatives that IBO Italia is carrying out.
“I think there are many disabled people hidden inside the houses, they [families/communities] don’t want them to be seen, I would like to beg them, those children need education, some have good talents, some are brilliants.”
Elias had an accident when he was 31 years old, reporting permanent physical damage to one leg. Before that, he had a common life: he attended the public school, he worked, he contributed to his family… Throughout his life he had never experienced disabilities or had relationships of any kind with a disabled person. When his life changed, he began to suffer discrimination at workplace: people, without knowing him personally, did not believe he could be mentally fit, but everyone changed his minds after seeing his products.
Today he is one of the founders of a local group of people with disabilities that is struggling to grow; among the most important challenges, in his opinion, there is the fact that community often isolates people with disabilities.
“Since when did you start considering yourself as everyone else?”
“About 20 years ago, I decided to be satisfied like this, relying on hope, we don’t have alternatives, if something is in your body, then it’s yours.”
Charles is a charming 48-year-old man, a reference for his community since he has always been politically active. He is the secretary of a local self-help group made up of people with disabilities, which in 2020 had access to a governmental subsidized loan to conduct small businesses.
He had polio when he was a child, suffering severe physical damage; at the age of 16 he underwent an operation which unfortunately did not give the desired results. Thanks to the support of the Isimani village community, after the operation he re-enrolled in school to complete his cycle of studies.
“So in this situation you can lose hope, starting from the parents, my mom was telling me, “you’re going to school but you belong to home, here we will remain me and you.”
Prisca is a special teacher who has become a focal point for children with disabilities who attend her school, Kibaoni Primary School in the Iringa District Council, in Tanzania.
She was 4 when she fell ill with polio and she could no longer walk alone, except using her trusty cane. Since then, she had to fight so much with her family that was preventing her from going to school, thus she was often feeling lonely and isolated.
It was precisely by attending school that she then decided to become a teacher and, years later during the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, she realized she wanted to do more and chose to dedicate her life to help children with disabilities and their families.
In 2021 Prisca won the Focsiv Volunteers Award as Volunteers from the South, a prize normally dedicated to citizens of developing countries committed to the growth of their communities.
“When I started this job, the situation was even more complicated: there was much more discrimination for children with disabilities, even here at school. Things are improving: this means that change is possible”.
Ester started the school to become a teacher in 2007; in that context, she met a student suffering from blindness and this meeting helped her she making the decision of studying inclusive education to help children with disabilities to get a quality education. She still remembers her first student, a child with down syndrome who was not considered by anyone. She began to help him by simply offering him some tea.
Today Esther works in Tanangozi Primary School, teaching to students in great part affected by intellectual impairments. She set up a special class where she teaches children with the different learning difficulties, and she sometimes managed to get some of her students into regular classrooms, where they can learn from other kids and implement their social skills. In her opinion, the biggest challenge today is the inability of the school to be completely open to the community and to build a strong bond with the parents of these children, to make sure they are cared for with love both at home, at school and in the community in general.
“I experienced the discrimination on my skin, so I would like to help ensuring that this doesn’t happen to others in the future”.
IBO Italia met Jasiri during a teacher training on inclusive education. He was one of the attendees, very enthusiastic and active, always ready to ask questions. For him, inclusive education is a personal challenge: he has lived with a physical disability since he was very young, but he has never been discouraged.
Few months after participating to the training, Jasiri voluntarily asked us to be included into the sensitization activities that IBO carries out in the rural areas of the district because he personally experienced that in the more peripheral areas are hidden the greater challenges. Since then, he has often accompanied us to the villages for raising awareness to the parents of children with disabilities, giving them hope about the future of their children.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
The 17 SDGs are integrated—they recognize that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and that development must balance social, economic and environmental sustainability.
The SDGs include a commitment to ‘leave no one behind’, and are universal, applicable to all countries, and directly relate to disability.
Seeks inclusive and equitable quality education and promotion of life-long learning opportunities for all. It focuses on eliminating gender disparities in education and ensuring equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including PWDs. In addition, it calls for building and upgrading education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and also provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.
Promotes sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. The international community aims to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for PWDs, and equal pay for work of equal value.
Strives to reduce inequality within and among countries by empowering and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, including PWDs.
Seeks to create accessible cities and water resources, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems, providing universal access to safe, inclusive, accessible and green public spaces.
Underlines the importance of data collection and monitoring of the SDGs, with an emphasis on disability disaggregated data.
To achieve the SDGs, governments and decision-makers must be able to understand, track, and monitor progress of implementation. However, data and evidence about PWDs remains insufficient and scattered. Disaggregation by disability is still a notable gap in both national and global development efforts.
The causes of this are complex and multifaceted, and include:
1. Often data on disability is not collected.
2. When it is collected, it is sometimes of poor quality.
3. When it is collected, it usually only identifies people disabilities and does not address barriers in the environment that may limit or preclude participation in the economic and social life of their communities.
4. When inclusive policies and programmes are enacted, it is most often the case that evaluative frameworks are not built into the process.