FELIX OMONDI is a Program Officer at the Lake Victoria Disability Centre (LVDC) in the Mara region of Tanzania. He is also a member of Mara Cluster. Here he shares some of what he's learned during his time there.
Working here has changed me totally. It was not my intention to do this kind of work, but I came across LVDC and came to admire them so much. At first, I would not even want to shake hands with someone who has Albinism. But now I can shake hands, hug, or assist a child with a mental disability. There is not much financial reward to this kind of work, but the spiritual rewards are great. I’m also now studying special needs education.
People with disabilities sometimes stigmatise themselves. Especially in rural areas, people misinterpret disability as a curse. Traditional beliefs are a big cause of this. But disability is not someone’s choice. And it is not a curse from God either.
We are all human beings! I think more people are realising this, and stigma is on the decline. We’re seeing a lot of improvements at the moment. Services for children are so much better than they once were.
There is not much government support for disability work. The government has a policy of inclusion, but they don’t support people with disabilities unless you apply a lot of pressure. They don’t even provide hearing aids for deaf people. This makes the work of NGOs like ours very important.
Through the Cluster I have met people and groups with different ideas and visions, which I have learned to apply in my organisation. For example, I have met people like Valerian and talked about FGM. As a result of what I have learned, I have now written a proposal to fund an FGM project for girls with disabilities. A lot of girls can sometimes run to safe houses when they are at risk of FGM, but girls with disabilities often cannot. I want us as an organisation to do sensitisation, radio programmes and talk to the cutters.
Learn more about Felix's Cluster on their web page.