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VIDEO: The Power to Dream. The Power of Unity.

Published 11/03/2015 by Global Communities

VIDEO: The Power to Dream. The Power of Unity.

Ana Heidy Ambrosio, a resident of Corn Island in Nicaragua, lived  a life of isolation and marginalization until she was 15 years old. She was born deaf, and up until this time was never given the opportunity to learn Nicaraguan Sign Language and did not have full access to the language spoken in her home or at school. Because of this, Ana and her family were unable to communicate effectively. Unsurprisingly, this communication barrier resulted in Ana being shy and unhappy. 
The lack of educational opportunities for deaf people on Corn Island made Ana’s isolation even worse. Her family, trying to protect her, would keep her inside of the home.
But Ana’s life changed when her grandmother, Romelia Dixon, attended a Municipal Governance Program (MGP) workshop implemented by the partner organization FECONORI. The initiative seeks to increase citizen participation by Persons with Disabilities and their organizations in order to improve efforts to advocate for disabled people’s rights. Ana’s grandmother found out during the workshop that the project would be providing the island’s first sign language courses. 
This project, implemented by Global Communities as part of USAID’s MGP, represents the first initiative on Corn Island to provide support to Persons with Disabilities.
Ana was one of 24 deaf people that participated in the 15-day intensive Nicaraguan Sign Language course taught by deaf adults. It was the first time in her life that she met other deaf people. The course had an immediate impact on Ana. She learned to communicate with others, her shyness faded away, and her humor and attitude have greatly improved. “I’ve changed because I feel more confident,” Ana said as she demonstrated the signs she now uses to communicate with those around her.
As they got to know each other better, the participants in the sign language course, with the support of MGP, decided to found a chapter of the National Association of Deaf Nicaraguans (ANSNIC) in Corn Island. Along with other Persons with Disabilities, the members of ANSNIC began to learn about their rights as established by national and international law. Through the this project, the participants gained tools to help them more effectively advocate for recognition of their rights and strengthen their organizations.
Over the past 14 months, MGP worked with other Persons with Disabilities, which led to the creation of the Association of People with Physical and Mobility Impairments (ADIFIM), the Organization of Blind Nicaraguans (OCN), and the Association of Mothers and Fathers of Disabled Children, “Los Pipitos.” These organizations are now advocating for public policies that address the needs of the disabled population.
Ana is a member of ANSNIC and is heavily involved in the organization’s activities. Along with her colleagues, she successfully petitioned the mayor’s office to provide a classroom for continued sign language classes. Since then, 24 people have been receiving sign language classes three times a week. The mayor’s office also agreed to provide a stipend for the sign language instructor.