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In Rwanda, 26-year old Jeanette Uwimana defying the odds

Jeanette Uwimana , a 26-year old living with speaking and hearing disability defyes all odds by becoming Miss Rwanda 2022.   -  
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Cleared @Diana Iriza for Africanews


Uwimana was initially interested in competing for the 2021 edition of Miss Rwanda beauty, but due to disability fears and insecurities projected unto her by her friends and family, she was discouraged to do so. 
Nevertheless, she still chose to pursue her goal this year but started off by enrolling herself in sign language training, something that would help her communicate effectively with Rwandans. She shares her story with Africanews.

_"Ever since I was in Primary school, I used to watch the Miss Rwanda pageant __and I really wanted to join it, but the sad thing is I couldn’t see a deaf person __joining Miss Rwanda. So I said I will go try it out and see if it can work. So I __registered, when they called me, I was really happy. Then I went to the southern __province where I started with the auditions, it wasn’t easy, I was scared a bit but _I was like, I have to do this. People with disabilities are able, if you are blind, if you have physical disabilities, if you are using a wheel chair, any disability, we are able".

Uwimana was announced as the winner of the most Innovative Project in the 2022 Miss Rwanda beauty contest, sponsored by Rwanda’s bank of Kigali, she will receive funding for her project and will also work as the bank’s brand ambassador.
Uwimana’s friend and interpreter Dorcus Mwiza says Uwimana is a very courageous girl and is destined for greater things.

"It’s an open door for her which will open other main doors. I’m sure she will be developed from this platform, I’m sure she will help other people with disabilities. Her family as well".

"After winning as Miss Innovation, my plan is to continue doing advocacy for people with disabilities. Not only deaf people but people with disabilities in general. So I want them to start their own businesses and to follow their dreams".

According to the fourth Rwanda population and housing census carried out in 2012, there are 446,453 persons living with disabilities here in Rwanda, but with programs like Miss Rwanda, a lot of inclusivity has been encouraged, now we have young women like Uwimana thriving and paving the way for other people living with disabilities. 

Diana IRIZA, in Kigali Rwanda, for Africanews.

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