Working hard to reduce the stigma of disability

“Disability is not inability”, according to Boniphace Kyaruzi, an Australia Awards Alumnus and Environmental and Water Distribution Engineer for the National Environment Management Council in Tanzania.

Walking with the aid of a stick, Boniphace said the only way for people with a disability to reduce the stigma they often face is to get out there, work hard and change people’s attitudes. And work hard he has.

A recipient of an Australia Awards Scholarship to study a Master of Water Resources Management at the University of Adelaide, Boniphace said he was encouraged to apply for an award because of the program’s inclusive policies towards people with disabilities.

He said that, from speaking to other Awardees, he knew that from the interview process, right through to his travel to Australia, he would be assisted.

“It is also worthwhile that the Australia Awards program encourages all its recipients to consider disability inclusion aspects in their Work Plans on Return,” he said.

“Provision of the right infrastructure is vitally important for people with disabilities to access services, and enables them to fully participate in the workforce and contribute to national development.”

Boniphace said he believes he has done a lot to change the mindset of people around him, which in turn makes people more aware of the need for social inclusion practices, particularly in the workplace.

“People with disability are sometimes perceived as being weak, but we can only change that attitude by working hard alongside our able-bodied colleagues. That is the best way to reduce the stigma.”

Wednesday, December 3 marks International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPwD) – a United Nations- sanctioned day that aims to increase public awareness, understanding and inclusion of people with disabilities and to celebrate their achievements.

The Australian Government has been supporting IDPwD since 1996. For more information on how the government empowers people with disabilities through its aid program in Africa, including in its Australia Awards program, click here

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