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Four voices. One goal

My name is Ramatou Dan Dano, I am 24 years old. I come from a large polygamous family. We are two girls and two boys. I am a person of short stature and I was born with a hump on my back. I crawled on my hands and knees until I was nine years old and started taking my first steps when I was ten. From then, I asked my mother to enrol me in school. She wanted but my father was against it. He was afraid that when I go to school I would suffer because the other children would spend all the time making me fall and therefore hurting me. My feet were not firm. I still asked him to enrol me. He resisted a lot and finally agreed. One morning while he was at work, one of my cousins took me to school and I was enrolled. Those around me thought I couldn’t do it but I defended myself saying I could.

As time went by, I would leave school in the company of my classmates, even if it took me a bit longer than them to get there. Sometimes I would be late but I was always accepted into class. Disability was not a reason for me to close in on myself or to be rejected by my family, quite the contrary. I am the only one with a malformation in my family and everyone grant me mutual respect and consideration as it has always been the norm of the family.

Ramatou Dan Dano during the Inclusive Festival

After my educational journey through primary and secondary school, in 2020, I was a candidate for the “A” level graduation, but I didn’t succeed. Anything good comes in its own time. In the meantime I learnt to sew and knit at the Tibiri centre for the disabled in Tibiri – Maradi region. It was at this centre that I met the Inclusive Festival Project (PFI) team who gave me the opportunity to perfect what I had learned.. 

I was placed under the guidance of a master tailor who I learned new techniques from. Today, thanks to this training, I am doing well and in turn I have become a trainer. Although baccalaureate did not work out, I will never be a burden to anyone.

Other women and I have pooled resources to create a sewing workshop where we teach this discipline to others. We request for a small contribution to buy the necessary material for learning. Personally, I gave out my per diems which I got from traveling with ODI to realise the dream of the workshop. I am about to start a home and I can safely say that the Inclusive Festival Project of the Voice programme added value to me. I have been trained and I will pass on this knowledge to future generations. I am already a role model with self-confidence for young people with disabilities because I am able to speak up and express myself freely and I always urge them to do the same. My mother is not here to see the fruits of her labour, but I remain convinced that from where she is, she is proud of me. 

Alio Abdoulaye

My name is Alio Abdoulaye. I am 29 years old and I am a person of short stature with a deformity in my upper limbs. I come from a family of nine children and I am the only disabled child in the family. I am still single. I didn’t go to school because my parents wouldn’t enrol me. However, I am not discriminated by any of my brothers. Before Voice came to Tibiri – Maradi commune, I was a vegetable retailer. When the opportunity to get training came up, I immediately took it. That’s how I was trained to repair motor pumps. For me it was a natural choice because the people of Tibiri also grow off-season crops and therefore use motor pumps. During this training I also learned to be a mechanic because my trainer did both jobs. The Inclusive Festival Project of the Voice programme was doubly beneficial to me. Thanks to this support, I can be self-sufficient and support my brothers. My goal is to own my workshop and be known in the field. I believe in this because I work hard on a daily basis and I forget about disability. 

Alio Abdoulaye

Maman Salissou Issoufou

My name is Maman Salissou Issoufou. I was born in 1990. I am a person of short stature with a malformation of the upper and lower limbs. I come from a family of ten children among whom I am the only disabled person. I was already born with these deformities. I didn’t have the chance to go to the school of the “white”. Nevertheless, I learned to read and memorise the holy Qur’an at a very young age. When I was a child, I was sometimes mocked at by imitating the way I walked and the gesture of my hand, but I disregarded it. I decided that the lack of school education was not a hindrance to my professional development and I decided to enrol in a training centre to learn how to sew. This did not bother me at all because as the saying goes: “there are no silly jobs, there are only silly people”. I held on, I persevered and from the rank of apprentice, I am now a trainer. Thanks to the Inclusive Festival Project, I had four apprentices who I trained for six months. Also, thanks to the same project, people with disabilities from Tibiri were represented at the 1st festival in Niamey, the 2nd one in Tahoua and the 3rd one held in Maradi recently.

Maman Salissou Issoufou

There is no doubt that participating in these activities organized in favour of the promotion of people with disabilities was for me a new experience, moments of great discovery, a space for exchange and learning between people with and without disabilities.

Our participation was a benefit not only for the training centre that welcomes us but for the entire Tibiri commune. It is an ideal setting that gives us the opportunity to open ourselves up to other horizons. Our prayer is to see this kind of initiative continue.  

Safira Chaibou 

My name is Safira Chaibou, I am 20 years old and I am deaf. I was born with a disability. In my family we are eleven children, two of whom are Deaf – one of my brothers and me. My parents are very attached to us. Despite the disability I did not experience any rejection. I have always had my rightful place in the family. When I was old enough to go to school my father took me to school and after primary school, I was lucky to continue my studies up to the 3rd grade where, after two sessions, I was not successful to pass the General Certificate Secondary Education to advance to secondary school. After these failures, I found myself without any occupation. It was then that I was offered a vocational training. I’ve always been fascinated by technology and so when the opportunity came, I didn’t hesitate for a moment. I chose a computer maintenance course and for 12 months I pursued it in the company of other people.  Now, at the end of my training, I applied to the municipality for a space where I could set up my own digital tools maintenance company. The town council had warmed up to this idea. Even if things were slow to get off the ground and I still don’t have the means to open my own shop, I’m not losing hope.

I now know that to be a leader you have to surpass yourself and have confidence in what you are doing.  Those who pass by and see what I do are amazed by what they see and many congratulate me. I was the only girl in the area of training that I chose, and without boasting, the trainer found my work better done than that of the other 2 who are boys.

Safira Chaibou

My ambition now is to train young people and especially young people with disability, starting with my younger brother.  My family now knows that I can take care of myself because this training that I got with the support of Voice has pushed me to reveal my true potential.

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