I was born with a disability that caused me to be among the marginalized minority in my community and country at large. As I grew up, I faced stigma, stereotype and marginalization and discrimination right from my family which later spread out to the wider community. At home with the family, I am seen as the fragile one who needs to be over protected and assisted at every given instance. I am not allowed to participate in home chores as well as I will not be allowed to exercise my full potentials as a girl or lady. They see me with pitiful eyes and consider me to be a sick person all the time. When every child goes to school at the right age, I go 2 years later, when my friends leave school and go to work; I am going to the theater for a corrective surgery on my deformed foot. As they become independent and leave home, I become more dependent and remain at home for my family to support and assist me at every instance. My family did not know they have ignorantly sowed seeds of stigmatization, marginalization and discrimination in my life that will affect my inclusion and participation in the community.
From all the unjust sentiments towards me from my family in the name of protecting me, my right to education, empowerment, economic growth and socialization experienced a big barrier placed on it. As I was not allowed to live independently, I had no voice and the power to make my own decisions. Everything about me was decided by others. The kind of clothes and shoes to wear, the age to go to school, what course I have to pursue in the university and the kind of career that they think it’s the right one for me because I am fragile. Facing all these barriers, stigma and discrimination, I had dreams, ambitions, a vision of who I want to become, but has never been given the opportunity to express them and gain the support I need to pursue all these dreams and make my vision a reality.
“Silence was slowly killing my dreams and stealing away my empowerment”
Despite the silent barrier placed on me I by family and the community, slowly but surely I made my way to the top. I worked so hard to be empowered and today I am a Silence Breaker in the lives of women with disabilities. With my experience growing up as a woman with disability I know for sure that all women/girls with disability out there face the same challenges as I do.
With the empowerment and exposure I have attained, I look back I know that I have a lot to give back to my community of women with disabilities to help them be Silence Breakers in their individual corners and have the assertiveness to leave their comfort zones and speak out.
I know that I can empower them to be actors and contributors to their own empowerment, change, creating the future we want and leaving no one behind.
As the president of the North West Association of Women with Disability, I will lead my women with disability to go beyond barriers in every facet of life, exploring all opportunities and becoming instruments of empowerment for sustainable development.
As the president of women with disability in the North West Region of Cameroon, I stand to make the difference by empowering women with disabilities to have self-esteem and assertiveness to be Silence Breakers. Women with disability are now able to;
- Their self-esteem and confidence have been greatly improved
- They are able to identify with understanding the different forms of abuse and how their rights can be violated
- They know to whom they have to report any form of abuse and violation they face
- They can speak out when they face any form of abuse and violation of their rights
- They have skills and are generating income for themselves and families
- They are also involve now in decision making circles and have power of decision over their lives and future
- Through awareness and sensitization, families now know that women with disabilities can also be risk takers to bring about change
As we celebrate the international women’s day, women with disabilities from all over the North West Region Cameroon will join the rest of the community for the commemoration. This is one great achievement in my reign as the leader of women with disabilities in my region. It has enhanced the inclusion and participation of women with disabilities in the commemoration of the international day celebration.
“So far I Break the Silence and will continue breaking the silence”
Veronica Ngum Ndi
Founder at: Community-Association-for-Vulnerable-Persons-CAVP