Featured Storyteller

CAMEROON: I Will Not Let Disability Silence Me

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Posted March 22, 2018 from Cameroon
On March 8, women with disabilities in the North West Region of Cameroon were included in an International Women’s Day celebration. Photo courtesy of Ndi Veronica Ngum.

Ndi Veronica Ngum grew up with a disability that threatened her independence. Now, she’s a powerful disability rights activist working to empower others.

“Despite all these barriers in my life, I had dreams, ambitions, and a vision of who I wanted to become.

I was born with a disability that caused me to be among the most marginalized minority groups in my country of Cameroon. When I was growing up, the discrimination started at home and spread to the wider community.

At home, I was seen as the fragile one who needed to be protected and assisted at every turn. I was not allowed to participate in household chores, nor was I allowed to fulfill my full potential as a girl or as a lady. My family saw me through pitiful eyes and considered me to be a sick person.

I watched as my peers started attending school; I went two years later. When my friends were leaving for school, I was entering the operating theater for a corrective surgery on my deformed foot. When my friends became independent and left home, I became more dependent and remained at home where my family supported and assisted me.

My family did not know that they had ignorantly sown the seeds of stigmatization, marginalization, and discrimination in my life, themes that would go on to affect me greatly. Their unjust actions, in the name of protecting me, placed a barrier on my access to education, empowerment, economic growth, and socialization. I was not allowed to live independently, so I had no voice or power to make my own decisions. Everything was decided for me: the kind of clothes and shoes I wore; the age at which I attended school; what course to pursue in university; the kind of career that would be right for me because I was so fragile.

Despite all these barriers in my life, I had dreams, ambitions, and a vision of who I wanted to become. I was never given the opportunity to express these hopes or to gain the support I needed to pursue my dreams and make my vision a reality.

I was silent, and this silence was slowly killing my dreams and stealing away my power. And yet, even with this barrier, I slowly but surely made my way to the top.

One day, I was employed as a babysitter. I went to live in the home of a very rich family. The mother of that family was an empowered woman who faced challenges, but she did not let those challenges alter her love for us. I started to think that I would like to be like her one day. When it was time for me to learn a trade, I told her I would like to attend school instead. She agreed with me and told me that I would need a job that would protect me as a person with a disability. I have always loved community development, and that is how I found my path.

I worked so hard to be empowered, and today, I work for the rights of other women with disabilities. I know that all women and girls who are disabled face similar challenges, and I know that I have a lot to give back to my community of women with disabilities. I help them have the assertiveness needed to leave their own comfort zones and speak out.

As the president of the North West Association of Women with Disability, I lead women with disability to break barriers in every facet of their lives, so that they can explore all opportunities and become instruments of sustainable development and empowerment. I stand to make a difference by empowering women with disabilities to cultivate self-esteem and assertiveness and to speak out and be Silence Breakers.

Now, women with disabilities in my community have greatly improved confidence. They are able to identify and understand the different forms of abuse they face and know how their rights can be violated. They know how to report any form of abuse they come up against, and they can speak out when they face these rights violations. They have skills and are generating income for themselves and their families. They are part of decision-making circles and can make decisions for themselves.

I have worked so that families know that women with disabilities can also be risk takers and can bring about change.

This past month, women with disabilities from all over the North West Region of Cameroon joined the rest of the community to commemorate International Women’s Day on March 8. This is one of my greatest achievements in my reign as the leader of women with disabilities in my region because we were included.

We participated in an international day of celebration for women, as women. We broke our silence, and we will continue to break our silence until we are heard.


STORY AWARDS

This story was published as part of the World Pulse Story Awards program. We believe everyone has a story to share, and that the world will be a better place when women are heard. Share your story with us, and you could be our next Featured Storyteller! Learn more.

Comments 68

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Ann Forsthoefel
Mar 22
Mar 22

Dear Veronica,

Your story is so uplifting,and inspiring. It is a reminder for all us to continue to push ourselves to reach our full potential as a human being. The impact you are creating is going beyond the borders of Cameroon it is reaching all of us around the globe.

Bright blessings,
Ann

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Mar 31
Mar 31

Dear Ann
Thanks for your warm comments. I hope to let the story of women with disabilities heard far and wide in countries all over the world
Veronica-Cameroon

Carol
Mar 23
Mar 23

Dear Veronica,

What an inspiring story. We work in Cameroon and would love to work with you. Please get in touch.

Courage!

Warmly,

Carol

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Mar 31
Mar 31

Dear Carol, thanks for your interest to work with us. you can get in touch through: ngumvero29@gmail.com. Hopping to hear from you soon.
Veronica

Olutosin
Mar 23
Mar 23

Wow this is so amazing. I love the fact that you never allowed anything to stop your dream, false I appreciate the woman who believes in you and supported your dreams.
The best of all is your decision to help others to become empowered and independent. Keep on soaring, sweet Veronica.

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Mar 31
Mar 31

Thanks Olutosin, we need to be strong and continue to be strong so that women can be heard.Lets be unstoppable
Veronica

jlanghus
Mar 23
Mar 23

Hi Veronica. Congrats on being a featured storyteller for your awesome story and work for disabled women!

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Mar 31
Mar 31

Dear JLanghus
Thanks and will continue to commit myself to our WP community
Veronica

Tamarack Verrall
Mar 23
Mar 23

Dear Veronica,

Your story holds such a powerful message that no matter what discouragement others around us express, trusting ourselves no matter the hurdle, is crucial. "I was silent, and this silence was slowly killing my dreams and stealing away my power". It is so widely assumed that as women we have nothing to offer. Through your story you inspire such determination, showing how you have pushed through a double layer of dismissal, by trusting your own deeply held dreams of possibility. I love the photo of so many women in wheelchairs in the street together.

With love in Sisterhood,
Tam

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Mar 31
Mar 31

Dear Tamarack
Thanks and I hoe to continue doing more for the empowerment of women/girls with disabilities
Veronica

Dear veronica,never let anything hold you down,you were created to be purposeful,keep impacting and GOd bless u

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Mar 31
Mar 31

Dear Nnenna
You have a beautiful name.We are unstoppable
God Bless you
Veronica

chimdirimebere
Mar 25
Mar 25

Veronica dear, yours was a story of inspiration to millions of people out there. Yes, we may not be physically challenged but in one way we may have a shortcoming but your story has inspired me to reach out to my God given potentials without looking back on any setback be it physical, emotional or otherwise. Once i set my eyes on the goal it will surely be achieved.

Thanks dear.

Chimdirimebere Harriet

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Apr 02
Apr 02

Truly Chichi we are all disabled one way or the other.Be a strong woman.Remember "an empowered woman does not listen to what is said behind her back" Forward you must go and you will be unstoppable.
Love
Veronica

Cheers to you, Veronica, for being awarded as a Featured Storyteller!

Your grit is inspiring. Two words caught my eyes as I read your post: Community Development.

I took a degree on community development in college. It sure is great to know that is your passion, too!

And you as a woman who is differently abled is paving a way for other women to own their voices and use them. Bravo to you and to yout team!

I am sending you a virtual hug because I am so proud of your courage and in what you do. May yout story inspire the rest of the differently-abled people across the world!

Love from the Philippines!

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Apr 02
Apr 02

Thanks Karen
Your words are so sweet. One appellation I love "differently able woman". Nice one there. Thanks for the hug. Will continue to do my best for the empowerment of my peer ladies who are differently abled.
Cheers
Veronica

OakTrillium
Mar 26
Mar 26

I Am with you sister! Having a hidden disability for many years, it's so important we join together for strength!!

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Apr 02
Apr 02

Dear Oak.
We are together,with one strong voice we will break the silence until we are heard.
Love
Veronica

IFEYINWA EZEAGU
Mar 26
Mar 26

I call you a sister, I call you a friend and I call you a woman of substance Veronica.
Congratulations to the story award, it's an honour well deserved.
Your story is highly inspiring my dear. I've known you for a while, but get to know you even better.
You are a blessing to our generation, many disabled women are looking up to you, and can't afford to let them down. You are indeed a voice to the voiceless.
I'm proud of who you are, I'm proud of what you're doing! Keep it up!
Keep the light shining and keep raising and supporting women.

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Apr 02
Apr 02

Dear Sister
Its so wonderful to hear these cheerful words. Am so glad that we met on the Empower Women Platform. Thanks and will continue to try my best
Love
Veronica

Jane Frances Mufua
Mar 26
Mar 26

Dear Veronica,

I am so proud of you and especially the work you are doing to promote other women with disabilities in Bamenda in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. I am happy to have personally witness some of the activities women with disabilities were involved in during the 33rd edition of the International Women's Day. Yes I can not forget the song that one of our sisters with a disability sang on one of those days. She challenged every woman that for peace to reign in the world it must come through us women.
Keep up the good work.

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Apr 02
Apr 02

Dear Jane
I am happy you can acknowledge my works.It has been great working with you.You are a great woman
Love
Veronica

ARREY - ECHI
Mar 27
Mar 27

This is a beautiful story of resilence and positivity in the face of insurmontable odds. Being hearing impaired, I understand what it means to live through a disability and though mine is not as visible, it is a trying situation sometimes to deal with the sometimes off remarks by others.

I am glad you didn't let all that negativity weigh you down. Proud of what you are doing. Keep being you.

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Apr 02
Apr 02

Dear Echi
Am impressed to meet you.You are the first woman with disability Have met on WP from Cameroon. Thank you so much and never let your disability put a barrier on your vision
Love
Veronica

Anjana Vaidya
Mar 27
Mar 27

What a powerful sharing my dear Veronica. Keep shining and inspiring to the whole world.
Love and hugs, Anjana

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Apr 02
Apr 02

Hi Anjana
Thanks and to assure you I am unstoppable
Love
Veronica

shea
Mar 27
Mar 27

Hello Veronica

Thank you for this story. It was great to read it. Very inspiring. Wish you the best

Shea

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Apr 02
Apr 02

Hi Shea
Thanks very much.I will do my best
Love
Veronica

Bim Adegbite
Mar 27
Mar 27

Just beautiful...."Despite all these barriers in my life, I had dreams, ambitions, and a vision of who I wanted to become"...this really stood out for me because you are a living, breathing witness of what is possible when we believe. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for helping others share their story. Bold, brave silence-breaker! Thank you!

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Apr 02
Apr 02

Wow Bim
Thanks very much
Love
Veronica

Matilda Moyo
Mar 28
Mar 28

Dear Veronica,

This is a beautiful, refreshing and encouraging story of victory. Thank you for sharing. I'm glad you did not allow social perceptions about disability to impede your dreams, ambitions, and a vision. I wish you even greater success as you continue to reach and empower more women.

Matilda

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Apr 02
Apr 02

Hi Matilda
Thanks very much and God is my strength. I will continue to struggle my way through while holding the hands of those who are weak.
Love
Veronica

Jayne Cravens
Mar 28
Mar 28

If I can help North West Association of Women with Disability in any way, please let me know. I work for a nonprofit in the USA called Knowbility, and it promotes accessibility online for people with disabilities. Perhaps we could help you have an accessible website so that all people can navigate it, including those using assistive technologies. Perhaps we could help you find volunteers to caption your videos. Please do let me know. More about Knowbility: http://www.knowbility.org

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Mar 31
Mar 31

Dear Jayne
I am so happy to hear from you and your offer to help us online. We have a great need to develop an accessible website and have not fully develop our knowledge on that. If you can be of assistance to us we will be very grateful.please get in touch womenforum237@gmail.com

Vivian Emesowum
Mar 29
Mar 29

Dear, you are great, you have won the barriers by keeping it aside and go ahead and do what you desire to do to achieve you dream. Congratulations sister

Clodine Mbuli Shei
Mar 30
Mar 30

Excellent one there our President,
I am so delighted to work in collaboration with you. You are such an ambitious and dynamic leader. Thank you for the wonderful work you are doing in empowering women and girls with disabilities. Courage

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Mar 31
Mar 31

Dear Clodine
Thank you and we will like to continue to work in you
God bless you
Veronica

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Mar 31
Mar 31

Dear Vivian
Thanks very much.We will continue to break barrier and the silence till we are heard.
Veronica

Tumanjong Miranda
Mar 31
Mar 31

Hi Sister Veronica, I'm so touched by your story... They saw your disability, but you saw your ability. I really admire you and what you are doing. Thank you for impacting the lives of others. You are a great person.
Kudos!

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Apr 02
Apr 02

Thank you Miranda
God is my strength
Love
Veronica

Urmila Chanam
Apr 02
Apr 02

Thank you Veronica for being such an inspiring leader for all the women and youth! I am deeply moved by your determination and will to never live a moment in self pity. Great is your spirit and it is a delight to read your story on World Pulse.

Prayers and hugs from India,
Urmila Chanam
urmila.chanam@gmail.com

Sister Zeph
Apr 05
Apr 05

What a great story of your bravery my sister, you are so amazing, hats off to you for all your patience your courage, your wisdom and your success and for your vision and efforts to uplift other women who are facing same challenges as you are but I will not call you a person with disability but I will call you a woman with different powers and abilities, bless you with lots of love and respect

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Apr 06
Apr 06

Dear Sister ZEPH
Thanks for encouraging words
Love
Veronica

victoria l
Apr 06
Apr 06

Hello Veronica,

Thank you for sharing your story and its really inspiring. I am passionate about the role that wonderful women have gone ahead to change their Communities without being held back because of their disability. I have learnt this first hand from my mother. She always says "disability isn't inability" and she had done so many things just like someone who is able. She inspires me alot.

Thank you.

Victoria

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Apr 06
Apr 06

Hello Victoria
Thank you for your contributing comment.Your mother is right and she has proven herself.Disability to me is more of a state of mind than a physical something.Humans in one way or another have a kind of disability.
Love
Veronica

victoria l
Apr 08
Apr 08

You are very right Veronica. I completely agree with you. Grateful to have great people like you.

Thank you.
Victoria

sarah_2
Apr 07
Apr 07

Thank God for your life Veronica!!
You are really a strong woman and you've made me to believe that there's always an ABILITY in DISABILITY.
I'm inspired

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Apr 15
Apr 15

Hi Sarah
Thanks very much for your kind words. Truly there is always an ability in disability. We just need to zoom more into the person's gifted talent
Love
Veronica

Apr 07
Apr 07
This comment has been removed by the commenter or a moderator.
Ndimofor Aretas
Apr 08
Apr 08

Dear Veronica,
You are truly and inspiration for the people with special abilities.

I look forward to meeting, working and learning from you, so that together, we can encourage and empower the Bamenda Community.

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Apr 15
Apr 15

Dear Aretas
Thanks and it will be my pleasure to work with you.
Regards
Veronica

Evelyn Fonkem
Apr 09
Apr 09

Great piece Veronica you are such an inspiration

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Apr 15
Apr 15

Thanks Evelyn.you have been a wonderful mentor sister
Love
Veronica

Ngwa Damaris
Apr 09
Apr 09

Go Girl!!!!!!!!! We got your back.Your limit is above the skies

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Apr 15
Apr 15

Wow Damaris
We are leaving no one behind
Love
Veronica

Apabeloi Vera
Apr 09
Apr 09

Wow I so love you Ma congratulations am in Cameroon and I pray one day we Meet and for me to partake in the grace on your life your story make me think of doing so much for my country Cameroon thank you Ma I Love you so much

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Apr 15
Apr 15

Dear Vera
Thanks for the compliment. I look forward to hearing from you.
Love
Veronica

Lily Habesha
Apr 10
Apr 10

HEy Dear,

Disability can't stop anyone from dreaming bigger.
In my country, we have four brilliant people I always wonder about them.
four of them are blind, but did an awesome jobs.
a female- she is a lawyer, peace activist, traveled well, she is always on TV, last Sunday she won some award, She is a lorret...etc

the young man , blind- famous comedian and singer..he works most of time in scandinevia

the older man- blind again- a supreme court judge, he has his driving licence, he drives...
the fourth one great musician and singer

there are many kind of disable people but they educate themselves, work harder, earn better than the people who are able.

it is only your dream, and strength that takes you to higher places, not your feet , your hands or eyes.

As long as the eyes of your hearts are open, you can see wider.
You can achieve bigger.

Love, Lily

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Apr 15
Apr 15

Hey Lily
You just said it all. Actually my boss is also blind and he is a great and intelligent person.
Cheers
Veronica

Aquina Bih
Apr 16
Apr 16

Hello Veronica,
I really like when women step up to speak out. I love when women discover their challenges and face it. I must say congratulations to you for your leadership role and for helping others with disability know they are worth too. keep the good work going.

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Apr 17
Apr 17

Thanks sister.We are together in the fight for women empowerment and their rights
Love
Veronica

erin_3
Apr 25
Apr 25

Veronica: I am wondering if you use Person Centered Planning in your work with women who experience disability? In the United States, it is used as a powerful tool to show other people your strengths first - instead of a focus on deficiency (which can be typical here with disability), the person is asking for a focus on ability. There are many articles on the web on what it is and its uses - and many templates for creating one. I think they are particularly helpful for children to use as a tool to get better inclusion (to show to teachers, coaches, friends). Here are some samples (it is a link that has sample profiles in several languages in case other WP readers are interested): http://factoregon.org/person-centered-plan-samples/

If you do already use this tool, I'd love to know if the format is different in Cameroon.

Thanks! Erin

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Apr 27
Apr 27

Wow Erin
Thanks very much for sharing this template. We use person centered planning on very rare cases in Cameroon.People always put the defficiency first and use it to limit us from participation.This is a good resource to share with others in the same field of work.
Thanks
Veronica

Leku Sylvie Nakou
May 04
May 04

Wow what a great motivation for me, I lived in a similar situation, your story really touched and inspired me. I now know that the path I have chosen is the right one, and nobody will tell me under wise. Thank you very much for sharing your story,because there are some women who don't know how to take a bold step and stand their grounds no matter the challenges they face in life,but your story will empower them.

QueenVirtuous
May 15
May 15

Dearest Veronica,

You have disarmed your disability and refashioned the negativity and dependency in that debilitating condition into a tool for the betterment of other people's lives, people who have challenges similar to your own. And I tell you, even people without disabilities are being transformed under your watch because you have changed their orientation about disabled people and how their lives should be.

You have done well. The light that shines forth from you not only shows others the way but also brings them warmth. Again, well done.

I pray you never tire of doing this good work which you are doing. And I pray that the fire which you have lit may grow into a mighty flame for all to see across Africa.

Tecenta Achiri
Jun 15
Jun 15

Dear Veronica
This story has thought me a big lesson I actually thought people with disabilities should be assisted in everything they do because I have pity for them. But your story has taught me not to throw a pity party at them because they can do everything like me and even better things
Courage my dear

Tiffany Brar
Jul 02
Jul 02

Hi Veronica, as a blind i know how hard, i struggled to be self independent. i understood your feelings and after reading your posts i can sense that you are a lady of strong will power and clear focused. you are a very big inspiration for millions of people including me..
happy days for ever.

lailagardaCIP
Jul 21
Jul 21

Veronica I can totally relate with your story. I run an NGO called Helplife in Pune Maharashtra India working for empowering differently abled adolescent girls from low socioeconomic strata. Your story is so inspiring and I can use that as a tool to encourage my girls. One of my girls is 90% disabled she is today a chef at the Conrad Hilton after doing hotel management.