Promoting awareness of the rights of persons with psychosocial disability in Rwanda

During the last couple of months, Dave, Winnie and Sofie have been driving around the country to do the mobilizing and sensitization workshops on “the rights of persons with psychosocial disability”. For each meeting NOUSPR invites 15 people comprised of patients, family members and local leaders. Till now the team have had seven meetings, and they will continue till members from all NOUSPR patient groups have been visited (14 in all).

The team presents the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, telling participants about equality, work, education, health, family and society, and how the Persons with psychosocial Disability have the right to join in on all these aspects of life. The NOUSPR team engages the participants in discussion and provide enough space and time for people with psychosocial Disability to tell their story and how they feel their right have been respected or violated. They talk about being treated cruelly and how many of them are denied food or not being allowed to go to the hospital for medical treatment. ‘We are abusively called abasazi (meaning mad ones), and some even throw stones at us!’’, one of the participants said.

It is clear that families and society still have a long way to go in accepting the rights of people with mental health problems. Many of the participants say that they did not know about these rights, and especially family members tell us ”we have learned something valuable only to day!”

The local leaders who get involved in discussions also say the sessions teach them a lot on how to treat people with mental problems. The training has also been an arena for the leaders to meet the groups and to start co-operation.

NOUSPR have used this mode of convening patients, caregivers and local leaders to effectively advocate for the public rights and services to also benefit people with psychosocial Disability.


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