by Dieudonne Nsabimana. Coordinator of the African Stuttering Centre
The purpose of this article is to give you insight into the work we were doing to create positive change in our community . We have been translating education materials on stuttering into the local language with the support of the International Fluency Association (IFA).
11year-old Bruce is a kid who stutters who lives in a rural area of northern Rwanda, where stuttering is defined by folk myths.
Bruce had dropped out of elementary school because of the myths about stuttering. When he heard we had come to his school, he put aside the fear that stigma had caused him and came to meet us. Bruce told us “My teacher teases me a lot in class every time when I cannot answer oral questions and I feel embarrassed and ashamed to come to school". Really, it's so sad to hear this and it's such a shame.
I gave Bruce a wonderful children's book on stuttering called "Sometimes I Just Stutter” and I asked him, “What do you want to be when you grow up?" Bruce replied “I want to become a policeman ". Ohoooo!!! It's good to have a dream. But dreaming alone isn't enough. I had to explain gently that education is very important in life and attending school is very necessary for him to make his dreams come true. Then Bruce understood the importance of education and expressed his desire to continue his studies.
Meanwhile, all Bruce's school teachers received the 8 Tips for Teachers brochure, thus helping them to develop their knowledge about stuttering so that they can support students who stutter in the classroom. I also placed the brochures on all the teachers’ tables. We then equipped Bruce's school library with 60 booklets on stuttering for the teachers, the kids who stutter and their classmates
Currently at Bruce's school, the teachers, the kids who stutter and their classmates live in harmony and help each other.
At the present time, Bruce is in the fifth year of primary school and he is succeeding well in class. He will build the confidence he needs to follow his dreams, through these translations of the educational materials on stuttering.
We believe that through education, Bruce can become an important figure in his community, and will never forget the role we have had in his life.