Victoria of Tanzania was one of two Fellows from the Inclusive Disability Employment Program matched with CDCI in the spring of 2018.
Career and Background
Victoria amazed all she met in Vermont with her sheer capacity. She was selected for the Professional Fellows Program for Inclusive Disability Employment (PFP-IDE) because of her impressive academic background and work with the Open University of Tanzania. Victoria is currently working on a project that helps to bridge the gap between female graduates with disabilities and potential employers.
Victoria’s work has been driven by a sense of social justice and a desire to see changes made on a larger scale:
What motivates me is the vision of seeing university girls with disabilities having a sense of belonging and purpose, excel in their studies, get early guidance on their career options, and being able to obtain and keep paid jobs. HerAbility Foundation, the initiative I founded after getting back in my home country after spending four weeks in Vermont, has been able to do successful employer engagement which saw girls with disabilities getting paid jobs and internships. Alongside persons with disabilities, I have been part of higher-level policy influencing to see it that policies, laws and practice sufficiently and meaningfully protect disability rights.
Victoria somehow found time to have some Ben & Jerry’s, sample maple syrup, and even work on her dissertation while in Vermont, but most of her time was spent meeting leaders, community members, students, and self-advocates around the topic of employment and supported employment. Some of these connections helped Victoria make big changes immediately upon her arrival back home to Tanzania.
Dr. Brian Dague remains my great anchor, he is always on standby to either forward me additional resources and even assist me with editing on my monthly articles on disability issues in Tanzania. The contacts I made in Vermont, especially Think College Vermont, Project Search, Upper Valley Services, Pathways, Champlain Community Services, Vermont Association for the Blind and the Visually Impaired, Department of Mental Health Vermont, North-western Counselling & Support Services, Vermont Center for Independent Living, and Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living, continue to be my inspiration moving forward. I maintain a close relationship with Michelle Paya [featured as one of CDCI’s Community Partners in October] of Champlain Community Services whose advice continues to be invaluable.
As Victoria wasted no time putting plans into action, it comes as no surprise that she already has projects lined up for the future:
- Next year I am looking forward to being part of the envisaged policy change in reviewing of the Persons with Disability Act, 2010 to strengthen guarantees of disability rights especially in relation to inclusive employment. As the law stands now, employers have great chance to justify non-compliance.
- In collaborations with the federation for disabled people organizations, I am planning to put in place a monthly session on disability positive storytelling.
- I am keen to continue producing one article per month on disability affairs in Tanzania.
- Generally, I have put the affairs of persons with disabilities as my life priority, in every chance I get, If it requires my action or voice, I will do so as a means to push and realize human rights for persons with disabilities.
- My overall plans are also around getting my Ph.D. done. With my Ph.D. done, I will be able to do great things with and for the disability community in Tanzania.