Supporting Persons with Disabilities: An Interview with Vincent Kaduma

In honor of International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), LMG interviewed Vincent Kaduma from the United Republic of Tanzania. Mr. Kaduma is the country facilitator of the Tanzania delegation participating in LMG’s Regional Senior Leadership Program, conducted in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and facilitated by Yale University’s Global Health Leadership Initiative. 

Vincent KadumaVincent Kaduma, Disability Programme Officer, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Special Fund for the Disabled (ICRC/SFD), Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Vincent Kaduma is the Disability Programme Officer for ICRC/SFD in Tanzania. He is a physically disabled person as a result of polio at age four. As a polio survivor, he considers himself fortunate to have attended not only primary school, but also secondary and later earn a university degree.

Mr. Kaduma has quite the work experience working on disability issues in Tanzania. He works closely with the network of disabled people’s organizations and other disability organizations in Tanzania, but also worked with Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania, a well-established disability hospital in Dar es Salaam, through community programs in and around the city. Part of his work is to make home visits to adults and children with disabilities. He was appointed in 2012 as a member of CBM Livelihood Advisory Working Group and continues to lobby, advocate, and research on various disability issues, mainly livelihood and health. As a liaison to trade unions, involved in disability awareness training as a facilitator, and volunteering in motivating disabled students at schools in Dar es Salaam, Mr. Kaduma also works as a recruitment consultant to a disability recruitment agency. He has contributed to various publications and policy briefs that came as a result of the various projects. He is part of two European Union funded projects, ¨Less is More¨ and ¨Employability¨ that have made great contributions to persons with disabilities in Tanzania. He earned his Master’s degree in biblical studies, as well as several certificates in disability issues.

LMG: What does “break barriers, open doors to realize an inclusive society for all” mean to you?

Vincent Kaduma: For me, the key part is the first phrase: “break barriers.” Many doors I encounter are open, but often, everything about the door is designed for the able-bodied.  I can give you an example from a recent experience I had when my friend and I were going to a major bank in Dar es Salaam. The bank is very large and fairly new, but there is a large ledge that you must maneuver down to get to the ATM. I was able to use my crutches to get down okay but my friend is in a wheelchair and so he had to get out of his chair and crawl to get to the ATM. Once he got back in his chair, he found that the ATM window was too high for him to reach. In order to get money, he had to give me his card and all his personal information. He lost his privacy. In this case, the bank was “open” and the assumption was that anyone is welcome to use its services but that was not the reality.

LMG: What is the most important progress you have witnessed in implementing disability-sensitive policies and/or promoting public awareness?

Kaduma:  I am proud of the work my Tanzanian colleagues and I did in advocating for the Persons with Disabilities Act. In April of 2010, we went to parliament. Some of the secretaries for the parliament members said they were too busy to meet but we say we would not wait because we knew they were working on the policy and they needed to understand the urgency of ensuring rights for persons with disabilities. In the end, they met with us and the provisions were passed. We realized that we can create change if we take initiative and work together, we do not have to wait until we were invited to the policy-making table. We just need to keep showing up.

LMG:  From your perspective, what remaining challenges or obstacles are of highest priority?

Kaduma: Tanzania has signed and ratified the Convention on Rights for Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), but now the big challenge is implementation. Disability is a cross-cutting issue and should not sit in the Ministry of Health alone. My dream is for it to sit in the prime minister or president’s office. That way it would clearly demonstrate that all ministries are responsible for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in their decision-making, programs, and services.

LMG: As (the global development agenda heads toward 2015 and beyond) we approach the post-2015 time period, what actions do you recommend for leaders like yourself to take to encourage support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities and to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life?

What actions do you recommend for leaders like yourself to take to get disability included in mainstream development agendas?

Kaduma: There is a lot of talk about mainstreaming disability in development agendas and this is good, but we need leaders to stop just talking about mainstreaming and DO mainstreaming. The need to realize there are steps that can take now. They should recognize their positions as role models and lead by example.

  • Hire people with disabilities
  • Give them leadership opportunities
  • Ensure that the buildings and meeting venues development partners use are accessible to all

More great stories:

These leaders participated in LMG’s Regional Senior Leadership Program, conducted in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and facilitated by Yale University’s Global Health Leadership Initiative:

Sudan: Abo Osama Abdalla Mohamed Taktook, General Secretary, Sudan National Council for Persons with Disabilities

Sudan: Salma Ahmed Ali Geneif, Disability Focal Point, Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization & Reintegration (DDR) Commission

These leaders participated in the Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD) program led by Mobility International USA (MIUSA):

Peru: Barbara Ventura, Founding Partner and President of La Asociacion Luchando Contra Viento y Marea (Association for Struggling Against All Odds

Kenya: Lizzie Kiama, Director of Gender and Disability at This-Ability Consulting

To read more about the Regional Senior Leadership Program, click here.

To read more about LMG’s work empowering disability leaders and strengthening services for persons with disabilities, click here.