|About the Author: My name is Dieudonne Nsabimana, I am the Coordinator of the African Stuttering Centre (ASC) and Chair of an umbrella organization of people who stutter in Rwanda.
Because stuttering has a big stigma in Africa, I became an activist and I fight for the rights of people who stutter.
The purpose of this article is to shed a light on the challenges that African children who stutter face, specifically those who live in rural areas and to give some insights about our efforts for positive change.
The life of a person who stutters is always a struggle, but the life of an African child who stutters is even harder and a struggle that is, partly for cultural reasons, beyond imagination and yet, most of the world ignore this.
Imagine, growing up in a world where you lack the very basics of life. Beyond that, in most African countries, especially in rural areas, there is no electricity supply and no internet connections.
Therefore, rural communities (mostly, with 70% of population) cannot access to online educational materials available on stuttering. The teachers, students and parents are in a total blackout as far as the related problems are concerned. One can only imagine the confusion, fear, anger and frustration involved.
Imagine, due to a lack of information, some people from rural communities in Africa, practice old age stuttering treatments. By cutting the membrane beneath the tongue (lingua frenum). It is believed to be involved in the appearance of stuttering.
Imagine, African children who stutter living in rural areas have the profile of children targeted by accusation of witchcraft. According to a UNICEF study, called “Children Accused of Witchcraft”.
Imagine, in African rural areas, children who stutter would prefer to drop out of school, because of the teasing from their teachers and classmates.
What is the solution?
To find a solution, we have translated from English to local language the educational materials on stuttering from the Stuttering Foundation. And we would like to equip African rural elementary schools with these translated educational materials on stuttering.
Our purpose is to help children and teachers to have access to materials available for them, thus helping them to develop knowledge about stuttering and to learn to help each other.
Furthermore, teachers will acquire the necessary skills to better assist, in the classroom, students who stutter thus leading to a world that better understands stuttering.
The translated educational material on stuttering brings information into areas where there has been no access before. And help children, teachers and parents to take responsible action by: changing attitudes toward children who stutter, changing attitudes towards teasing and obsolete treating techniques.
We greatly appreciate the stuttering community support for these projects and hope to continue to make progress towards a world that truly understands stuttering.
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