As the Inclusion Works project has kicked off in its project countries – Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, and Bangladesh – Inclusion International has been working to ensure that self-advocates have leadership opportunities within the project.
During the recent consortium-wide Inclusion Works Start-Up Workshops, self-advocates in project countries had the opportunity to prepare and deliver presentations to inform project partners working alongside Inclusion International about the importance of inclusion and barriers to employment for people with intellectual disabilities.
In Nairobi, self-advocates Joy Rehma and Jane Akinyi from the Kenya Association of the Intellectually Handicapped (KAIH) facilitated the session for Kenyan project partners.
Hassan Zilakula of the Ugandan Parents of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (UPPID) and Edward Kanmugire of Inclusion Uganda facilitated the presentation in Kampala for Ugandan project partners.
In Dhaka, self-advocates Sanjid Hossain of SEID and Otonu Shahadat Akbar of the Down Syndrome Society of Bangladesh represented Inclusion International as facilitators for Bangladeshi project partners.
In an upcoming Nigeria workshop, Inclusion International will be represented by Awele Mordi and Moyosore Ijale from Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria (DSFN).
During the presentations, self-advocates shared their experiences finding work, talked about the key challenges people with intellectual disabilities face in the workplace, identified the ways they would like to be included in their workplaces and communities, and shared some role-plays to showcase effective workplace supports.
Edward’s experience presenting in Kampala was an empowering one, and he felt that role plays have a lot of potential for sharing experiences: “Having the chance to present in front of all those people, I felt I could do everything in my personal life, I felt I was in control of everyone in the rooms, reason being they were all focused on me. It was not only the role that I played but also the ability to act amongst all the others in the room. It makes me feel happy that they were all getting why I was acting. I believe that through role plays, self-advocates can easily express their feelings towards the communities that we live.”
Sanjid in Bangladesh echoed Edward’s positive feelings about his experience as a facilitator – “the meeting was nice and I felt really good. I was happy as I was given enough time to do the presentation and say what I actually feel. Nobody interfered; everyone appreciated. Everyone was so nice to us. Through the workshop, everyone got to learn about us and our capabilities. Our capabilities and stories need to be promoted more.”
As Inclusion International continues to implement the Inclusion Works project and work alongside project partners, self-advocates will continue to have a central role in both project development and learning and sharing with our project partners.