Liana’s journey as a youth advocate in Rwanda
Liana has had a physical disability since childhood. In 2018, her potential to positively impact on the lives of other children and young people with disabilities was recognised when UWEZO selected her as one of the twenty ‘Youth Disability Advocates’ in a now completed youth-led project. In her role as a youth advocate, Liana received training in multiple areas of advocacy, disability and inclusion. Using these skills and her own experiences as a person with a disability, Liana mentored children with disabilities in their homes, working closely with the children’s families, surrounding communities and schools and regularly meeting with government officials to discuss effective ways of ensuring disability inclusion in policy development and implementation.
During her time as a youth advocate, Liana’s confidence grew significantly, and she discovered a real passion for advocacy. She also discovered her talent for acting and would regularly take part in radio shows and plays, which covered different elements of disability inclusion. She found that her own experiences as a person with a disability enabled her to easily step into the stories and tell them in an authentic way, and in turn these shows were positively received by listeners.
This year, when Able Child Africa and UWEZO launched our new disability-inclusive child protection project, Liana was selected to be one of the new project mentors due to her continued enthusiasm. Her experiences of having a disability and of being an experienced project mentor and disability advocate has meant that she is confident to take on the new role. Liana is continuing her passion for performance and activism by writing and acting in radio plays that focus on child protection and safeguarding for children with disabilities, and which invite listeners to think about how to keep children with disabilities in their communities safe.
The difference in Liana’s confidence from the beginning of the advocacy project in 2018 to her now is clear to see. She hopes to pass on her passion for acting to other children with disabilities so they can continue to tell their own stories.