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Capacity building for Rwandans with disabilities to mount an Accessibility and Awareness Campaign

We aim to empower Rwandans with physical disabilities to implement a campaign to decrease stigma and increase accessibility to health care.

Photo of Monika Mann
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What problem does your idea solve?

Rwandans with physical disabilities (RPD) often do not have access to rehabilitative care, experience stigma, and do not feel empowered to advocate for themselves. Our objectives are to build capacity in RPD so that they can implement an Accessibility and Awareness Campaign with the end result being improved accessibility and inclusion in their communities.

Explain your idea

In order to increase accessibility and decrease stigma experienced by Rwandans with physical disabilities (RPD), we will mount an accessibility and awareness campaign that targets multiple socio-ecological levels including medical professionals, students, teachers, families of RPD, and community members. In Rwanda there is a lack of awareness about physical rehabilitation among health professionals, RPD, and the general public. Because numerous studies have shown that insufficient rehabilitative care can result in restrictions in social participation and a diminished quality of life we will pair rehabilitation professionals with RPD to implement the campaign. In this manner, people with physical disabilities will be both the beneficiaries and the co-implementers, bringing to life the slogan Nothing About Us, Without Us. Presentations will focus on increasing awareness and understanding of disability as well as physical rehabilitation. We will promote appropriate referrals to rehabilitation services to assist in improvement of function, setting the stage for increased inclusion in society. We will work with a Rwandan disability rights group in order to develop culturally appropriate capacity building workshops in public speaking, leadership, and advocacy for the Rwandan teams who will be carrying out the campaign. All content of the campaign will be developed in collaboration with our Rwandan partners.

Who benefits?

The beneficiaries of this project are Rwandan people with physical disabilities (RPD). We expect that they will experience increased referrals for rehabilitative care, improved function, increased inclusion, and decreased stigma. There are also important benefits for the RPD and physical therapists who implement the awareness campaign. They will learn skills that will allow them to continue in advocacy and leadership roles to promote disability rights, accessibility, and inclusion.

How is your idea unique?

Unique attributes of our plan that will bolster its success include: (1) it spans the individual, family, community, and health systems socio-ecological levels in order to affect positive change, (2) Rwandans with physical disabilities (RPD) will be involved in every step of the process, (3) capacity building of RPD to empower them to become leaders, continuing to advocate for disability rights after the project ends, (4) a focus on assuring that RPD receive appropriate rehabilitation in order to achieve maximal function. Team advantages include: (1) a proven track record in successfully collaborating with Rwandan stakeholders in order to design & implement programs in the field of disability and rehabilitation, (2) a team leader who has an MPH specializing global disability, (3) an understanding of the influence of factors such as poverty, the genocide, and inadequate accessibility to health services on the prevalence and severity of disability in Rwanda.

Tell us more about you

Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO) is an NGO based in Washington, DC with a 30 year history of working with underserved populations worldwide. From 2013 – 2015 HVO ran a program in Rwanda to increase access & utilization of rehabilitative care. We will partner with the NGO Association Générale des Handicapées du Rwanda. Monika Mann, PT, MPH will be the project lead. She was the Coordinator for HVO’s Rwandan program & has worked in Uganda & Ethiopia. She took IDEO’s Human Centered Design course.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

Some questions we are working on: • Where and when will the trainings take place? • From which agencies will we need to receive permission to offer the trainings? • How will we measure success both of the awareness campaign and the capacity building trainings? (I’m thinking of pre/post tests, looking at changes in referral patterns, and focus groups regarding changes in accessibility and quality of life of people with disabilities.) • How can we best build in sustainability of the project? • Can this idea easily be adapted and scaled up to other low resource countries? I don’t think that any of these issues are insurmountable, and believe strongly that this is a feasible and desirable project that will achieve its goals.

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Rwanda

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • I've worked in a sector related to my idea for more than a year.

Organizational Status

  • We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

Idea Maturity

  • Research & Early Testing: I am exploring my idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it.

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