It is an honor that globally renown disAbility and human rights activist Neema Namadamu has found and commented on Alexis Snyder’s article on Invisible Disabilities, on Convaid’s blog.
Here is what Neema writes:
“Thank you Convaid and Milena for sharing this article. As an African woman and polio survivor married to a U.S. citizen, and living in my own country most of the time. I really appreciate all the access given to people with disabilities in the U.S.. We have never been in the States long enough at one time to go through the process of getting a handicap placard, so are not able to take advantage of the closer parking. But all the other access helps are wonderful. I know many people have worked very hard for decades to raise awareness and get the access granted all over the U.S. And it is wonderful that the awareness campaign continues. This article makes a great point – you can’t always discern a person’s disability by what you are able to deduce in a moment of time. I have a dear U.S. friend, a young woman, who suffers from a chronic fatigue condition. She lived with me in Africa for 3 months and so I learned a lot about how she manages her daily activities to be as strong as possible for the things she is determined to accomplish. Some days she was unable to leave our apartment, but many days she went to the office with me and worked her mission to help strengthen women’s associations here. No one she met with would have guessed what a struggle it was for her to do all that she was doing. They could see my handicap, but had no idea what she was dealing with each day. We both have dramatic physical limitations, but unless someone were to come visit us on one of her really bad days, when she was in her room resting to gain strength, no one would have guessed this beautiful, extremely capable young woman had any physical challenges.
Again, thank you for continuing to raise awareness about people with disabilities. Your campaign is reaching much further than you might imagine.” http://namadamu.com/
Neema is the founder of Maman Shujaa, a powerful women-led initiative that uses digital media to amplify the voices of women demanding peace in eastern Congo.
Neema was born and raised in a remote village in eastern Congo. She was stricken by polio at age two – an illness that left her physically disabled. Although facing incredible challenges, Neema refused to be limited by physical and geographical barriers. She became the first women with a disability to graduate college in Congo, and the second woman from her tribe to graduate from Congo’s national university.
Neema first used media to advocate for change as a young adult. In the eleventh grade, she initiated a one-hour weekly radio show to raise awareness and promote the rights of persons with disabilities in rural eastern Congo – a calling inspired by her own experience living with a disability. In 2011, Neema established Go Network, a national telecommunications company dedicated to connecting, informing and empowering women in eastern Congo. Go Network also serves to better connect Congo’s women to the national and international community.
In July 2012, Neema’s 25-year old daughter was brutally beaten by government soldiers near their home in Bukavu, eastern Congo. This incident, coupled with the ongoing conflict in eastern Congo, launched Neema to action for peace in Congo – she established the Maman Shujaa Media Center. The Maman Shujaa Media Center provides digital and internet literacy training to women living in eastern Congo. The women use this training to effectively share their stories – especially their desire for peace – with a broad online audience, garnered through WordPulse. Since its inauguration, the Maman Shujaa Media Center has become an internationally recognized voice for peace in eastern Congo.
Neema is also founder of the Congolese Association for the Liberation and Development of the Disabled Woman (ALCODEMHA), an NGO that connects disabled Congolese seamstresses with international garment designers and distributors. She has been a correspondent for WorldPulse since 2012.
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