If human rights activists believe that stigma is something the Rwandan community has left behind, they need to think twice.
The testimony of Maniriho Jean Bosco, a resident of Musanze district who has a mental disability is an indication that a lot yet needs to be done for the society to understand that everyone deserves the same respect and care, whatever the case.
Maniraho has spent fifteen difficult years following his mental case which started since the last 15 years and deteriorated over time.
It all started when he was in Senior 3 and the damage was to such an extent that he had to stop his studies by the time his classmates were going to sit the Ordinary Level exams (O’ Level).
A family of well-wishers however, found it important to intervene and took him for medication. After a couple of years, he returned to school and finished Senior 6 and got a certificate in Accountant, hoping to make it good use.
Alas! He did not know what the community held for him; the stigma was awaiting because to every door he tried to knock no one was able to at least give him a benefit of doubt.
He was considered a “useless, harmful person that cannot be trusted anything”, yet he had the capacity to work.
Over time, Maniriho struggled and managed to start a business of selling shoes in Musanze town. He was even able to build a home.
“I worked hard to achieve this milestone. Due to stigma, landlords used to chase me from their house, saying that they could not have business with a mad person, yet I owed them no single coin,” he said.
Despite Maniriho making it in life, he still experiences stigma every now and then.
After realizing that he could do something to support the case of the people with mental challenges, he approached relevant institutions to allow him start an organisation. “I tried to form.
By: Twahirwa Umumarashavu Janat