The first edition of Rwanda disability inclusion awards went down last Friday with Kigali Today being awarded for its outstanding efforts in promoting disability inclusion. Our very own Kinyarwanda News Editor Malachie Hakizimana was recognized as the media personality of the year.
The gist of these maiden awards is to acknowledge the time and energy invested in advocating for the rights and inclusion of individuals with disabilities in various aspects of society.
Through its work, KT has made significant contributions in raising awareness about the challenges faced by people with disabilities and actively worked to break down barriers to create a more inclusive society.
The award ceremony, specific to the private sector, was organized by A Thousand Hills Events Ltd in collaboration with other stakeholders including United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Prime Cement, GIZ-Rwanda and the Umbrella of organizations of persons with disabilities.
Upon receipt of the award, Editor-in-Chief at KT Leon Nzabandora expressed gratitude for the recognition and pledged genuine commitment and more initiatives in making a difference to create programs that promote disability inclusion.
“We are happy with the reward as an organization because we always strive to advocate and support people with disabilities in our work. In a special way, we have good relations with the National Union for Disability Organizations in Rwanda and it can only get better,” he said.
He emphasized that his organization has worked with other entities and individuals to ensure that people with disabilities have equal opportunities in education, employment, and social participation.
This, he says, has created and demonstrated a positive impact on the lives of many individuals with disabilities, making it easier for them to access services, resources, and opportunities they need to thrive.
With this, an unequivocal message has been put across that everyone has a duty to work in championing the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities. Our dedication and advocacy should serve as an inspiration to others and remind each one of the importance of fostering a more inclusive society for all.
Subsequently, various categories of individuals and groups of people from various sectors have gained appraisal for their contributions in disability inclusion.
During the award event, other recipients included financial institutions, entrepreneurs, health care providers, students, education institutions and special recognition was given to possessors of unique abilities and talents that have positively contributed to society in this regard.
Among them is Niyo Bosco, a blind local musician and guitarist, Dr Donatile Kanimba, Emmanuel Nshimiyimana (proprietor of A-Z Deaf Promotions), Bank of Kigali, University of Kigali and sports champion Theogene Hakizimana.
Others are Jali Transport company, Masaka Creamery Ltd, Stafford Coffee Brewery, SORWATHE and IPRC student Frank Gasigwa who invented a wheel chair that operates on voice and telephone commands.
“Congratulations on receiving disability inclusion awards. It’s a great recognition of your efforts and commitment to creating an inclusive environment that supports and values individuals with disabilities. Keep up the excellent work and continue to make a positive impact in the lives of others,” Nathan Ntaganzwa, Managing Director of 1000 Hills Events implored the winners.
Each year, nominations will be submitted from all sectors of society, including businesses, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and ordinary citizens who have gone above and beyond to foster disability inclusion.
Among the many deserving organizers, there stands out the heartwarming story of Prime Cement, a leading provider of sustainable construction solutions who offered cash prizes for this edition’s award winners.
Founded in 2020, the company has a special mission to provide employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
“People with disabilities were previously not only given a chance to work but also never provided with the necessary training and support to develop their skills to become independent. This is at the forefront of our mission as an institution,” Mahmoud Nasr said in an interview.
He says that with or without a disability, everyone should be viewed as a valuable team member who contributes their unique abilities rather than being defined by their status.
In his remarks, Jonathan Kamin, the Mission Director at USAID emphasized that disability inclusion is a beacon of hope and progress where every individual regardless of their abilities, is valued and empowered.
“This inclusive diversity is about enriching the workplaces, the communities and our lives with a plethora of perspectives and lived experiences. It’s about creating spaces where all are welcome and valued, where all can thrive, not in spite of their disabilities but because of the unique strengths and insights they bring,” he said
This should serve as a powerful platform to inspire others to follow suit and embrace disability inclusion in their own lives. It will create a ripple effect of change in Rwanda and beyond.
And when such a day of the Disability Inclusion Awards arrives, the excitement should not only move our hearts to tears for the incredible efforts made by others to promote disability inclusion.
It must be a reminder that society could truly become better when everyone has access to equal rights and opportunities because disability is not inability.