The newly released video, Inspiring Self-Advocacy, is the story of Michael Mwanzalima. Michael was born and raised in a Tanzanian village. At age three he was diagnosed with polio, but it went untreated for many years; as a consequence he has very limited use of his legs and uses a wheelchair. Throughout his childhood, Michael fought for his right to education and eventually went to university and earned his degree in Sociology with a specialization in Social Policy Planning and Administration.
Since then Michael has become a Social Welfare Officer in Tanzania and has opened his own Non-Governmental Organization called Tanzania People With Disability Organisation (TAPWIDO), whose mission is to educate people about the reality of disabilities and to de-stigmatize people with disabilities in his community as well as around the world. Today, TAPWIDO is working to advocate on behalf of and provide services to people with disabilities in Tanzania.
Michael came to the United States as part of the Mandela-Washington Fellowship, which is a part of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Michael took courses at Tulane University and then came to Washington State to work with Disability Rights Washington (DRW) as part of his experience in the Mandela-Washington Fellowship. Michael spent two months with DRW and learned about how disability advocacy works in America. His goal was to take what he learned here back to his NGO in Tanzania. During Michael’s time in Washington, DRW decided to make a series of videos profiling his inspirational story of self-advocacy. It is a joint project of DisAbility Rights Galaxy and TAPWIDO.
Disability Rights Washington, the publisher of DisAbility Rights Galaxy, is the state of Washington’s designated Protection & Advocacy System, and is a member of the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN).