Yali Profile : Disability activist pushes for social justice

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Disability rights activist Samantha Munyaradzi Nyereyemhuka continually yearns for social justice. Living with Muscular Dystrophy has not been easy for but her resolve to help society in social justice issues is undeterred.

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Sammy’s advocacy work started when United Nations Children and Education Fund (UNICEF) chose her to be part of the team tasked with drafting a National Plan for action for orphans and vulnerable children. In June 2003, she was elected to the UNICEF Secretariat for Youth in Zimbabwe, representing disabled youth. Her work saw her facilitating and attending a lot of workshops with an increased focus on matters pertaining to the rights of disabled children, including master classes with Youth Round Table Zimbabwe.

In 2012, she was part of a coordination team that did research on Zimbabwean Sign Language and published a sign language poster and dictionary that brought all various Zimbabwean sign language dialects together. This was a poignant time in her life as “it proved that I could advocate not only for physically disabled people, but for people with other disabilities as well,” says Sammy. She says these experiences have broadened her knowledge and helped her realize that she can be an agent of positive social change.

Sammy will spend six weeks at the University of Delaware in Newark where she will seek to improve and enhance her knowledge so that she “grows in articulation and advocacy on disability issues.”

Upon her return from the fellowship, Sammy will continue in her work as Projects and Finance Officer at King George VI Rehabilitation Centre where she hopes to use “experiences, knowledge and leadership skills gained at the Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) in developing more projects and programmes for disabled children and adults.”

Sammy has a Diploma in Secretarial and Administration Management, a Global Changes Leaders Certificate, Certificates with the Zimbabwe Institute of Management in Supervising and Management, Customer Care and Public Relations, Capacity Building and Development with MDF.