Kiribati native Ruby Nabetari has witnessed first-hand the severe and rapid impacts of global warming. She hopes that through theater, she can speak volumes to policymakers deciding the fates of climate-vulnerable nations.
Faaolo Utumapu-Utailesolo is the Program Officer for the Pacific Island Countries for the Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund. Read more about Faaolo Utumapu-Utailesolo
The Samoa Blind Persons Association recently produced the first Braille translation of the Samoan government's disaster risk management booklet. DJP Fellow Ari Hazelman was a key advocate in this enormous step forward.
Ari Tommy Hazelman is a blind 34-year-old Samoan man posted as the disability inclusive officer for the Samoa Blind Persons Association (SBPA). Read more about Ari Tommy Hazelman
Of the nearly 400 DeafBlind people living in Malawi, 250 are school-aged children. DJP Fellow Duster Lucius interviews Chrissy Mutumba, the first DeafBlind student accepted to a prestigious high school in Blantyre.
Duster Lucius is a 19-year-old disability youth activist who is DeafBlind (partial hearing, completely blind) and a national youth coordinator at the Visual Hearing Impairment Membership Association (VIHEMA). Read more about Duster Lucius
News From the Global Frontlines of Disability Justice
For decades, Rwandans with disabilities faced significant challenges to accessing health care. Now the country has embarked on an ambitious plan to renovate all of its outdated facilities, with accessibility as a priority. Thirty health centers have been updated so far, changing stairs into ramps, adding Braille signage and more. “Having access to health services to persons with disability in Rwanda is like dreams that we all wish to be true,” says Aimable Irihose of the Rwanda Organization of Persons with Physical Disabilities and Wheelchair Users.
Terubeimoa (Ruby) Nabetari has been using the skills she learned as a composer of music and drama to help her organization, Te Toa Matoa, get their messages across about the rights of persons with disabilities in Kiribati. When she first became disabled from an accident, “I felt sad and confused … because I was well-known as a person who composed music and drama in my country,” she says. “But as time went on, I thanked God that I changed my mind and started to realize what I have to offer people with disabilities.”
DJP Fellow Melvina Voua is advocating for the full inclusion of Solomon Islanders with disabilities in all aspects of climate change adaptation and mitigation. “When the crisis or the disaster happen, we always find it difficult to evacuate or access or even get prepared or respond,” she says. “All … plans must be inclusive and not excluding people with disability, like when designing evacuation centers or developing policies for climate change or disasters.”
DJP Fellow Ari Hazelman is drawing on his region’s rich storytelling history to further the cause of disability rights. “When we think about our myths and legends that we have in our Pacific culture, that’s part of the stories that we grow up with,” he says. “So when you put it to the disability field, using the stories that we can document through the knowledge that we learn in this [DJP] workshop will help us to tell our stories and use those stories to make a positive change in our society.”
DJP Fellow Isoa Nabainivalu is a Deaf disability rights advocate for his country of Fiji. Since 2019, he has been focusing on advocating for the rights of one of the more marginalized groups in the Pacific – LGBTQI+ persons with disabilities. “First and foremost for us is for our members to come out, to feel comfortable, to know their rights and know how to use them in different spaces,” he says.
Faaolo Utumapu-Utailesolo is a program officer for the Pacific Island Countries with the Disability Rights Fund. She is a longtime disability rights activist in Samoa. “As an advocate, you get knocked down by things,” she says, “and you keep going because you know that there are other people with disabilities who need a lot of support and who will need you to be paving the way.”