In its efforts to provide legal and psychological support to Isabelle and other disabled victims of injustice, ABA ROLI began partnering with "Action Femme Sourde" (AFS) in March 2017 and began to understand the problems faced by deaf women. AFS is an advocacy group in DRC for deaf women, to help them become more active in their communities. ABA ROLI felt that beyond case intervention, education and an increased legal awareness for AFS members was the best way to help them defend their rights and facilitate access to justice. By training two ABA ROLI interns from AFS — including the president of the organization, Nadine Pendeza — on legal assistance, access to justice and best practice of organizational management, ABA ROLI and AFS are working together to end discrimination and injustice against persons with disabilities in the DRC justice system.
In this effort, ABA ROLI team members felt it necessary to learn sign language to avoid another form of exclusion in the workplace between the deaf and interlocutors. “Langue des Signes Français” (French Sign Language) courses are now held at the ABA ROLI office in Goma, two times a week for staff and the AFS interns. To date, all ABA ROLI staff members have a good understanding of the basics of sign language to communicate effectively with the deaf.
In addition to communicating with the interns, learning sign language has become a means of personal development for ABA ROLI staff, a source of pride and a harmonious exchange that has brought ABA ROLI staff and the women of AFS closer together. Through this continued partnership, ABA ROLI will be able to reach more marginalized groups and victims who cannot communicate through word of mouth, but rather speak with their hands.
*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the individual
To learn more about our work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, please contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at firstname.lastname@example.org.