“It’s some kind of passion that comes from inside me to want to talk – because I am not scared of talking about our problems and denouncing those things that have not been right. Because of the fact that I have some education I can express myself with a little ease, and [other women with disabilities] push me to address the problems they have. It is helping me and it is helping the other women too.
“The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has not been ratified by the Cameroonian government. If I were in power I would see that the parliament ratifies this such that people with disabilities in Cameroon can enjoy the rights and benefits that people with disabilities in other countries enjoy.
“There are very good laws that promote and protect people with disabilities in Cameroon. But those who have to implement them are not obliged to – because if they don’t implement them they are not sanctioned at all. If I were in power I would make sure that these laws are implemented and that those who do not respect them be sanctioned somehow.
“When I became blind [in 2009] I regretted not paying attention to those who were in the situation I am in now. I am a better person now than I used to be: I am much more courageous, I understand people much more than I used to… and I’m working with some wonderful people.
“People have a lot of misconceptions about blind women. They think that people [with visual impairments] cannot do anything at all. In our community, when someone wants to brag about being an expert in a domain he will say, for example: ‘I can do these things with my eyes closed.’ Our eyes are closed and yet we do things, and we do things well. So we are the experts.”
In Cameroon people with disabilities are legally entitled to vote. Yet many of those who want to participate in choosing their political representatives find they are unable to exercise this right, excluded by a series of obstacles both practical and social. Since 2011, with funding support from Irish Aid, Sightsavers has been working with a number of organisations, including Cameroon’s official election body, to raise awareness of this situation, and to support people with disabilities in engaging with the democratic process in their country.
We’re working with partners in Cameroon and Senegal to ensure people with disabilities are able to take part in every stage of the political process.
We’re working with partners in Kenya to give young people the skills and practical experience they need to begin a career in IT.
We’re working with governments in Uganda and Malawi to improve access to quality eye care services and prevent avoidable blindness.