Bahati Satir Omar is a visually impaired young Social Entrepreneur from Rwanda possessing a wide range of experience in advocacy for the rights and the empowerment of youth with disabilities in Rwanda and across Africa. He is a Masters students in Project Management and holds a Bachelors Degree of Education. Currently, Bahati serves as the Capacity Building and Disability Mainstreaming Officer in a cross disability local organization that fights against HIV&AIDS among persons with disabilities. 2 years ago, Bahati managed projects on the integration of persons with disabilities in national poverty reduction strategies and led the process of developing a the first parallel report on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Bahati was not born impaired but rather acquired it in 2003 shortly before completing his high school. It was such a tragic moment in his life and family since his dreams of being a medical doctor were suddenly ended.
In 2010, Bahati attended a training on Social Entrepreneurship that transformed his life and enabled him to be a change maker. It was a time when the disability movement consisted of the old generations and no one thought about the young. The “Nothing about us” slogan mostly used by persons with disabilities, gave him the power to be the change that he wished to see. As a result, Bahati established the first ever cross disability organization for youth with disabilities in Rwanda entitled “UWEZO Youth Empowerment” , the Uwezo being a borrowed Swahili word meaning ability. UWEZO brings together youth with mobility, sensory and cognitive impairments in order to create a platform of exchanging life experiences and seek solutions for long. Employment being a dream to many youngsters in Rwanda, when it comes to those with disabilities the consequences multiplies.
As a strategy of introducing university graduates with disabilities into the workforce, UWEZO initiated a National Volunteering Program for youth graduates with disabilities entitled the “Connect”. This project links graduates with disabilities to institutions where they work as interns for six months. The aim is to increase their skills and experience making them more employable. During the two year project, implemented 2014-2016, the project recruited 45 youth graduates with disabilities (30 youth with disabilities have completed placements in 28 companies). All interns receive mentoring and coaching to enable them to improve on their performance. Working with the employers has also improved on working conditions of the interns and made workplaces and employers more accessible for persons with disabilities. 10 youth with disabilities have acquired permanent jobs as a result of the volunteering program.
UWEZO also influences national laws, policies and programmes so that the diverse needs of youth with disabilities in Rwanda are realized and they are fully included in society.
Bahati is driven by enabling children and youth with disabilities to actively participate in the society and enjoy their life with dignity on an equal basis with others.