Faustina works as a peer trainer for Motivation in Tanzania. She’s been an inspiration to hundreds of disabled people in Tanzania, proving that having a disability doesn’t, and shouldn’t, hold you back.
Now, she’s advising government in her home country, helping to change attitudes for future generations – we’re incredibly proud. Today, she’s sharing her story:
“There were four of us in the vehicle. I was in the front seat. Suddenly, the driver swerved then stepped on the brakes. I flew through the windscreen and landed on the hard tarmac hitting it hard with my back. It was a sheer miracle that he didn’t run me over. “You’ll never walk again”, the doctor told me when I came round. I was devastated.
The first three months at the hospital were a real torture physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was a total wreck. When friends came to visit, I didn’t want to see them.
Then, three months after the accident, whilst still in hospital, I discovered I was pregnant. Within a month, my partner left me. Some of my friends abandoned me too. They doubted my ability to carry the pregnancy to full term, let alone deliver the baby safely. Some even told me I should have an abortion, but my family stood by me.
I was afraid of how my child would feel, having a disabled mother. I also thought “is my child is going to be disabled just like me? And if I can’t walk, and I can’t go to work again, how am I going to bring up a child?” Six months later I had my baby girl with no complications. My doctor was very surprised as was everybody else. I named my baby ‘TUNU’- Swahili for “precious gift”.
I cried the tears of joy and happiness – and these were my last tears. I started thinking of child and completely forgot about my disability.
I now work as a Motivation Peer Trainer, helping other people to realise that life isn’t over just because they are disabled. People can feel very vulnerable living with disability. Many people in Africa die within six months of being discharged from hospital, which is about the time the support system is withdrawn.
This is where the Peer Training can save lives. As a women, I work hard to dispel the myths that affected me. A woman living with disability will be sneered at even by nurses and midwives. “Isn’t disability enough a burden for your family without adding a baby that you will not be able to care for?”. Ignorance about sexuality for people living with disability is very common. Very often, husbands will have an affair openly without regard to his disabled partner’s feelings, but he feels justified – because his wife is ‘incapable’ of physical love.
Empowering women, and telling them that their disability doesn’t have to hold them back, is hugely liberating – you can see and feel the transformation taking place right there in front of you! As a peer trainer this gives me a lot of joy.
The fight for those living with disability is an immense battle. I am happy that I have been called to take part in helping to change our constitution, governing how disabled people are treated in Tanzania. In the past, this was done by people who weren’t disabled; now, there are 20 of us – all trying to change things for the next generation. I’m very proud to be a part of it.”