Annoncée Nyirangarukiyintwali, 34, is one of the frontline workers in the ongoing fight against Covid-19. She is a laboratory technician at the Nyarugenge District Hospital, which now serves as the temporary Covid-19 national treatment centre. At the age of five, Nyirangarukiyintwali developed Polio, and despite her parents’ efforts to treat her, she became physically impaired. During her primary studies she endured a lot of stigma from her fellow pupil. This, coupled with the lack of facilities for children with disabilities within schools, made learning for her difficult. In primary four, she fell sick and went to the hospital by herself, where she says she had a bad experience that turned out to be a spark to dream of becoming a health professional. “The doctor treated me with contempt. From there I said to myself that if I ever became a doctor, I would take care and give good service to those in need, regardless of my disability, and then reveal that people living with disability are indeed capable,” she explained. The idea coincided with Nyirangarukiyintwali’s passion for science. After performing well in primary six, senior three and senior six national examinations, she was given scholarship to pursue Biomedical Laboratory Sciences at Kigali Health Institute. After serving as a laboratory technician in Ruhango Provincial Hospital for more than seven years, the mother of two was transferred to Nyarugenge District Hospital in October last year. She says that learning that the hospital would temporarily be transformed into a Covid-19 treatment was not easy to take. At first, she was uncomfortable putting on personal protective equipment and work in a high-risk environment. People living with disabilities are the vulnerable to contract the virus. “But I said to myself that there is no other option…I always wished to become a doctor and help those in need, and this requires sacrifice and humanity,” she stated. According to Nyirangarukiyintwali, as far as Covid-19 is concerned, her day-to-day work involves going where Covid-19 patients are treated and collect sample tests, take them to the laboratory and register them in the system. She, together with colleagues, then send the samples to the National Reference Laboratory for examination, and when results come they share them with doctors following-up on the patients. Being a risky responsibility, she says that she comforts herself with diligence so as to avoid contracting Covid-19. “When I have touched something, I wash my hands before touching my crutches, and sanitize them as well before doing other things,” she noted. Disability is not inability Nyirangarukiyintwali says that people living with disability should never feel insignificant or incapable, especially those who are still young and have dreams they want to chase. “We are not weak, evidently, we are able. It is true that there will be challenges because we are physically different, but this shouldn’t make one feel incapable or odd,” she underscored. “If you already have a certain profession, do it with passion and do your best to acquire more skills,” she added. Meanwhile, Nyirangarukiyintwali acknowledged steps made so far by the government to ensure inclusion of girls and women, including those living with disability, saying that what has been done shows that the best is yet to come. “Our government empowers women and girls and has promoted people living with disabilities.” However, she adds, more advocacy is needed to help people living with disabilities reach their full potential.