“On 21 October 1993, an ethnic conflict broke out following a coup against Melchior Ndadaye. This civil war between Hutus and Tutsis took away my father and some members of my family. With the rest of the family, we had to take refuge in an Internally Displaced camp for fear of getting killed.
In 1996, when I was six years old, there was a rebel attack in the chief town of Bugendana commune, where we were taking refuge. The attack took more than 400 people and this is when I lost my right leg. After three years of hospitalization, I joined the primary school at 9 years old. However, in the Burundian education system, the age required to start the first year is 7, thus I was two years late. I was welcomed by the Saint Kizito Center of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which takes care of the handicapped. This Center supported me until the end of high school and also helped me to have a prosthesis that made it easier for me to move up to now.
Since my family did not have the means to pay me university, I tried to ask for sponsors from associations and individuals but I could not get help. Having this scholarship will be a golden opportunity for me as a disabled woman, especially since people with disabilities are still marginalized, their right to education and proper vocational training to access the market being constantly denied. This type of behavior reinforces the preconceived ideas regarding the weakness of their capacities, which only increases their difficulties.
In Burundi, the marginalization of people with disabilities is compounded by the fact that disability is generally perceived as a disadvantage. This scholarship will allow me to advocate with the Burundian government for people with disabilities, especially for children, so that they have access to an education that allows them to flourish and lead a productive life.
The life of a disabled child could be transformed through quality education. Too many children around the world cannot reach their full potential due to the lack of access to quality education. This scholarship will also allow me to plead for the fight against discrimination and exclusion of people with disabilities in employment by considering them as unfit while they are capable.
In Burundi, even disabled people who have had a quality education cannot find work. People with disabilities are doubly losers in the labor market because barriers are already present in schools. Education should normally be an open door to the world for people with disabilities, unfortunately they hit a wall more often than not.”
Thalia is one of Asherah Foundation’s outstanding recipients of 2019’s Second Chance Scholarship for women around the globe. Despite struggling for survival from an early age and fighting with discrimination, Thalia has never given up.
Thank you for constantly supporting our fundraiser! We are happy to build Thalia’s dream together!
*For privacy purposes, the real name has been changed.