When people hear the word art, the first thing that may come to mind is paintings. However, art has range, which includes anything from writing to dancing, music to sketches, and even public speaking. As a child, Louange Muhoza was something of an artist herself, as she loved to draw and write. This she did to showcase her true self—a form of self-expression that spurred the creativity to convey her personality, opinions, and emotions. Her love for art and the written word influenced her choice of study and she is currently a level five student at Nyundo School of Art and Music. With a firm background in arts, she says, her perspective of the world was reshaped, and this influenced her writing style. As she became more aware of her environment and society in general, she was concerned about people living with disabilities—the challenges they faced, especially stigma and discrimination—and wanted to connect with them in some way, perhaps shed some light on their plight through literature. Her persistence to pen things down finally paid off, and the 19-year-old is now a published author. Muhoza’s book, ‘Ella the Champion’, a kids' book and fiction story, is her way of letting society know that people living with disabilities are not ‘less human’. “Many people think that if you have a disability, you are unable to do things that able-bodied people do. That is not true,” she says. ALSO READ: Rwandan authors call for promotion of early literacy programmes ‘Ella the Champion’, Muhoza’s first book, tells the story of a blind girl (Ella) raised in a family that limits what she does, even leaving the house. She doesn’t go to school, either. But she can sing. One day, Ella’s friend Myla suggests that she takes part in a singing competition. Ella wants that more than anything, but there is just one problem, she is not allowed to leave the house. ALSO READ: Making school inclusive for children living with disabilities Myla insists that these opportunities are rare. And advises her to not feel disheartened by her impairment, or let it get in the way of her capabilities. Ella goes on to participate and win the competition—making her parents realise what a big mistake it was to not pay attention to her and keep her locked up—and not give her the space and opportunity to live her life and embrace it with her talent. ALSO READ: Rwanda looks to new efforts for supporting persons with disability Muhoza says the title of the book reflects the power that words can have on our lives. “Words have the ability to heal, hurt, inspire, or destroy us. My inspiration was to enlighten people and help them understand that people living with disabilities must be given room to thrive, they must be valued, and if able-bodied people can do one thing, so can they.” Naturally, getting her book out there was hard. At the start, it was ideas and more ideas. But as she built these ideas, she realised that pushing further not only got her to put them together but also generate something that was helpful to society, which came as surprise to her too, a dream come true. ALSO READ: How young authors are bringing Rwandan characters to life “It was very challenging since it was my first time, and in a limited period. I had only three weeks to write and illustrate. However, by observing and learning from other seasoned writers, I paved the way and laid a solid foundation for my own success,” she says gleefully. Muhoza hopes that her book will inspire many readers, especially children, to grow up and learn how to put their dream into practice. She is also working on her second book which is still untitled but hopes that this will be the book that kick-starts her career as a writer and illustrator.