Normal and Abnormal. This is a subject of an endless debate because “normal” may vary by person, time, place, culture and situation and thus being an amorphous subjective perception. However, our society labels “normal” as “good” and “abnormal” as “bad”, and this may have extreme consequences for an individual such exclusion and stigmatization. According to boundless psychology, stigma is defined as the societal disapproval and judgment of a person or group of people because they do not fit their community’s social norms. In the context of mental illness, social stigma is characterized as prejudiced attitudes and discriminatory behavior directed toward individuals with mental illness as a result of the label they have been given. It graduates to self-stigma; when the individual starts internalizing all the negativity being thrown at his/her face and starts believing them to be true. Stigma and discrimination can add to the suffering of the patient.
Children with mental disabilities have always been considered by our society as abnormal “bad” where in some communities, they even took a step further and associated it with witchcraft or curses from the ancestors haunting the parents of the children. In this case, both the children and their parents face the stigmas, and to the parents who weren’t strong enough to resist the society’s pressure to become normal parents (having normal children), they rejected, abandoned or threw away their children with mental disabilities, and those who were brave enough to live with their children with mental disabilities, lived in much agony and shame due to critiques from the society and this was even worse for their children because many of them made the same mistake made by every human. They had the tendency to treat them as normal children i.e. taking them to normal schools where they would face discrimination and mockeries all day long, isolating them during any physical activity or when visitors are around with the mindset that they are capable of doing nothing etc…, which resulted into more stigmas for the children until Tubiteho Day center was founded.
TUBITEHO day care center was founded in 2005 by parents and friends of people with mental Disabilities with the aim of providing special education to children and young people with mental disabilities and ensuring their optimal development of capacities through appropriate psycho-educational and socio-cultural supervision as well as the implementation of individual/collective projects.
Tubiteho was also founded to create awareness which intends to reduce the stigma face by the children with mental disabilities. TUBITEHO Day Care center came as burden reliever for the parents and the children, for it teaches these children social skills through different specialized methods, which smooths the communication between them and their parents at first, then the community at large, and intellectual skills which then helps them to be contributing and productive members within their respective communities and at Rwanda We Want organization, we always believe that building our dream country requires everyone’s efforts. It is in that regard that Rwanda We Want organization in partnership with Tubiteho Day Center organized a fundraising event to support and help to raise funds that will help to build facilities and to be used by children with mental disabilities in their daily school activities, for we believe that these children, through inclusive education, can play their part in building the #Rwandawewant. This event gathered 200 guests; politicians, academicians, the youth, children studying at TUBITEHO and their parents.
During the event, the guests were given a tour of the center and even shown some of the handcrafts made by these children.
This was followed by key note speeches from various governmental and non-governmental entities.
The representative of the parents’ testimony recurred more on the stigmas caused by lack of information on how to take care of their special children and expressed gratitude towards Tubiteho Day center for not only educating their child but also providing a manual on how to communicate and take care of their special children.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Emmanuel Bayingana- the vice mayor of Kicukiro district in charge of social affairs who spoke on behalf of the mayor. He commended the work of Tubiteho day center for not only supporting children with mental disabilities but also helping them to acquire some skills and pledged full support from the district through a closer cooperation with the school. After recognizing the handcrafts, he promised to look into availing those products at the made in Rwanda exposition being organized by Kicukiro district in the days to come.
During his remarks, the member of parliament Hon. Eugene Musolini commended the center for its tremendous work, and reminded the audience that people with disabilities can achieve great things beyond the capabilities limitations set by the society, if supported properly. He also pledged support from the parliament.
The executive chairperson of Rwanda We Want, Mr. Tristan Murenzi said that Rwanda We Want’s mission is to empower the Youth of Rwanda and so youth with mental disabilities should also be empowered because they can achieve great things like their peers. He added that they should be treated nicely because having been born that way is not their fault, for no one chooses where to be born from, but the family chooses how to welcome him/her.
In his closing remarks, Mr. Emmanuel Ndayisaba- The executive chairperson of NCPD pledged full support and he also promised the inclusion of Tubiteho center in their projects about inclusive education. He also requested the Vice chancellor of the university of Rwanda who was present to allow researchers to conduct a research about the increment of the cases of children being born with mental disabilities. He then donated 2cows.
The event was marked by the performances of the beneficiaries of Tubiteho center then the guests joined in to have fun with the children.