Disability Advocate Yetnebersh Nigussie Receives Right Livelihood Award


A human rights lawyer and disability advocate Yetnebersh Nigussie is among the winners of the Right Livelihood Award, also known as Sweden’s alternative Nobel prize.

By Lin Taylor (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

LONDON–At just five years old, Yetnebersh Nigussie’s world went dark.

After contracting a fever as a child, no amount of “holy water” or traditional medicine in rural Ethiopia was enough to stop Yetnebersh Nigussie from losing her sight – and community acceptance.

As far as her village was concerned, the girl was “cursed” and no longer had value as a daughter to bring in a sizeable marriage dowry. Her father eventually left.

“It was not easy to accept for my family. Blind people are assumed to be unfit, invalid in the community. It is considered to be a result of a curse,” said Yetnebersh, who believes her blindness was preventable and likely due to meningitis.

“So everybody told my mum, ‘Oh my god, it would be better if she dies,’” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in London.

Instead, Yetnebersh was sent to a Catholic boarding school for girls with disabilities in the capital Addis Ababa.

There, her life changed.

“I was lucky to be educated. Education was a turning point that changed my blindness into an opportunity,” she said,

Now 35 – and a human rights lawyer – Yetnebersh Nigussie is among the winners of the Right Livelihood Award, also known as Sweden’s alternative Nobel prize.

Read the complete story at Reuters
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