Jean Bosco Mugiraneza tells his story about becoming a Dialogue in the Dark facilitator. He is 30 years old and is from Nyamata sector in Bugesera district. He lives with his wife and daughter.
I was born sighted and attended primary and secondary school. I lost my sight when I was in senior 5 due to disease. I went to different hospitals, but I couldn’t get any help or assistance. It wasn’t easy for me and my family because it was like a curse. I felt hopeless and I didn’t have any will to live. I spent more than 6 months hiding without leaving the house.
One day, my relatives suggested going to a rehabilitation center to learn Braille and other means of communication. Thanks to Rwanda Union of the Blind, political will and support from my family, I attended the Masaka Resource Centre for the Blind, where I learned Braille and how to use the computer. These really helped me to continue my studies. I feel that my greatest achievement is completing my studies especially to University level. Now I’m working for the Rwanda Education Board as a trainer for teachers. I’m a school based mentor in English and pedagogical issues.
I was introduced to Dialogue in the Dark whilst at University and was lucky enough to meet the founder, Andreas Heinecke. He explained more about the concept and I was surprised to learn about how people reacted and responded to their experience in the dark.
I decided to get involved with Dialogue in the Dark as it is a great way to advocate for the rights and showcase the capabilities of blind people. I applied for the interview, then took part in different tests and exams and finally succeeded. I am really proud to have a job as the lead facilitator at Dialogue in the Dark. It is great to work many visually impaired people there.
Since joining Dialogue in the Dark, I have learnt a lot of things, such as team work, public speaking, time management, coordination and cooperation. I even learnt how I can cooperate with sighted persons – something I didn’t think was possible. Also, it has also shown me the importance of self-acceptance and to accept who I am.
Once you’re not afraid, once you try, that’s where you see if you are able or not. Rather trying, than not trying. So, I learned to have objectives. Once you have objectives, you can achieve them. Disability is not inability.
I was happy to see that my family reacted positively to me being involved in Dialogue in the Dark because it was another income and another opportunity to contribute and advocate for my rights.
In the future, I really hope to become a good trainer of sighted persons for an inclusive society. I want to find a way to live together and help each other, people contributing towards the development of society in general.