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Wins international award for his rights work

Members of the Rwanda Union of the Blind (RUB).

The Swedish Association of the Visually Impaired's co-operation organization RUB - Rwanda Union of the Blind has won an award for its work in educating, engaging and giving a voice to people with visual impairments in Rwanda. The award was presented in Paris by the Leitner Center of International Laws and Justice in 2014.

Donatilla Kanimba, RUB's Secretary General, is pleased that the organization's work has received international attention.

- This prize is not only for people with visual impairment but for all people with disabilities. It shows that we are as important as others, says Kanimba.

Members of the Umucyo cooperative harvested 15 tons of corn during the previous harvest period. Today, all members have their own bank account and a joint account for the cooperative. They have also created a kitchen garden where they grow vegetables that they share with the people who live in the area. The cooperative's activities, which also include self-help groups, mean that the members are less isolated than before. This contributes to society's attitudes towards people with disabilities gradually starting to change.

In 1994, people with visual impairments began to organize in the national umbrella organization RUB to create better conditions for fighting for fundamental rights.

- The award strengthens us to continue our work to improve the situation for people with visual impairment. We have not achieved our success on our own, but together with our partners and the Rwandan government, which has adopted inclusive laws, says Kanimba.

Jean Damascene Nsengiyumva, Secretary General of the Rwandan Disability Movement's umbrella organization NUDOR, adds that media reporting has also contributed to the organization's success. Because the media has given their support to the campaign, which shows inequalities in society, rights and disability issues have been put on the agenda.

- The award shows that even people with disabilities can contribute to the country's development, he says and expresses great hope that journalists and the media will continue to raise issues of rights for various minority groups in society.

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