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 Thomas
    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.