Justin Ruhumuriza, the Guild President at University of Rwanda - Rwamagana campus, grew up with a niece who had dwarfism. He recalls the hardships she had to endure, even as a child; the segregation and isolation seemed all so hard for her to bear. Her father went to the extent of stopping her from going to school. Ruhumuriza remembers also that when they were to go to church, the child was always left at home because they were ashamed of her. “I even remember how she was always considered last when it came to buying us clothes, shoes and other basic needs.” He was still a child himself, but he knew whatever was being done, wasn’t right. As any other human, her niece, regardless of her condition, deserved a better life. Today, people living with disabilities are still subject to stigma, stereotyping and discrimination. It’s a very hard place for them to survive like this and having witnessed this himself, Ruhumuriza decided to do something in his capacity to lessen the burden that most people with disability face. His organisation, Juru Initiative, was purposely set up to empower people living with disabilities, children especially, to explore and fulfil their potential. “We need a world that believes that people with disabilities are capable and worthy. The nation’s wealth is in our young people with disabilities like everyone else. Helping them is helping the nation,” the 23-year-old says. This is what empowers his purpose of doing advocacy, reinforcing capacity building, promoting sexual reproductive health, and fighting gender-based violence as well as promoting inclusive education for them. As a team, they often visit different families to interact and offer things such as school materials, food, hygiene products and money. They also organise challenges and competitions that help young people with disabilities uncover their inner talents. Through this, they furthermore raise awareness and promote human rights. What we want is to address hindrances that bother young people with disability. We want to ease their journey towards building a bright future. Juru initiative aims at addressing challenges such as eradicating stigma, increasing the number of literate young people with disabilities, busting myths that people with disabilities are incapable human beings, and above all, put an end to gender based violence among these people, Ruhumuriza explains. The case for gender based violence occurred to him during his different hospital internships, where he came to realise how big of a problem this was for people living with disabilities. Ruhumuriza is a third-year student doing General Nursing. He says, “I used to receive many of these cases at the hospital. This raised my concern and knew I had to do something. It’s one of the other reasons that encouraged me to start this initiative.” He has since vowed to do advocacy for these young people and from then, his beneficiaries have benefited from programs such as ‘Sobanukuirwa class,’ where they are taught about sexual reproductive health. With this class, they get an open space to learn and share their concerns. The young activist highlights that most of these people lack economic dependence; they have limited access to health services and other needs, they face social stigma and are prone to so many such vulnerabilities. “We need to do more to address these challenges. We need to increase awareness and teachings so that people believe and trust in their capacity. The government needs to put clear clauses that fight for their rights. There is also need to adjust buildings and other infrastructures so that people with disabilities can use them easily.” ‘Pad a girl campaign’ This is a particular campaign prepared by Juru Initiative with an intention of collecting funds to maintain hygiene for school girls with disabilities. The campaign is done online, where anyone can contribute by sending money on mobile money number (0780959629). Funds will be used to buy sanitary pads for over 1000 school girls. Ruhumuriza’s dream is to do what he can to help young people with disabilities live life with no barriers.