Our adventurous Disability Services Education Manager, Cema Mastroleo just got back from Kenya! Cema’s trip to Kenya was part of an initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, and administered by Mobility International USA (MIUSA). SafePlace was selected as one of only twenty U.S. organizations to participate in this Empower Partnerships cultural exchange that will help organizations around the world advance disability rights in their communities.
SafePlace is the American branch of a group of three organizations chosen to work together on gender-based violence prevention for girls and women with disabilities. Cema’s trip was only the first step in this project. In October, one professional from both partner organizations will visit SafePlace and Austin to see first-hand how an American agency and community address violence against people with disabilities. The project wraps up with a conference in Washington D.C. in December for all 60 participating organizations (20 U.S. and 40 international). Our two Kenyan partner organizations are:
- Disability and Women Development Strategies (DWDS): DWDS is located in the Western Province, Kenya and its goal is “To improve status and quality of life of women and girls with disabilities in rural African communities.”
- Pambazuko La Wanawake Magharibi: This organization is located in Kisumu, Nyanza, Kenya and its mission is “To empower women and young vulnerable people to demand for their rights through trainings, and community sensitization programs.”
The two agencies have already worked together on campaigns to end gender-based violence against women with disabilities in Kenya.
These exchange visits are a great opportunity for SafePlace and our partner agencies to increase our ability to advance disability rights. The partnership team will bring together our wide variety of experiences and best ideas. We are sure all will come away from the visits energized with new ideas for addressing and preventing violence against people with disabilities.
Stay tuned for an upcoming post about Cema’s Kenyan experience. We can’t wait to share her pictures, stories and lessons learned with you!