Written by Doreen Mayanja, HURIWD, Uganda
Before I had an opportunity to speak in public, my self-esteem was very low. This was mainly due to my different looks from the rest of the students in the schools that I attended, from family members and my community. I often hid in attempt to avoid being chosen to read a text or answer any questions in class. I was moody with a bad attitude, thinking that everybody was despising me. I had self pity.
One example of how this affected our organisation was when we had a general assembly in the Wakiso district, in which we were to elect district leaders for people with disabilities. I stood up to be elected. However, I was overwhelmingly opposed and sidelined on grounds of my disability i.e. Albinism. This didn’t only affect me as a person, but it also blocked the representation of my organisation for women living with Albinism.
Other members with other disabilities were able to marginalise us as people who are not capable to fulfill roles and responsibilities of the union because of the nature of our disability.
This happened because at that time I wasn’t fluent and confident enough to stand up for the rights of people living with Albinism. Because of that, we were left out of the election and it was a setback for our organisation as we didn’t have a representative who could raise our concerns at district level.
I overcame this situation by listening to counsellors and accepting myself, thereby realising the potential I had. Secondly, I was good in my academics and the teachers suggested appointing me leadership responsibilities, such as discussion group leader, librarian prefect and debating club chairperson. These responsibilities obligated and encouraged me to speak as a leader and thus built my public speaking skills.
Soon the wider community and public became aware of my public speaking ability and started requesting me as guest speaker for various ceremonies and functions, which further strengthened my confidence in public speaking.
Our organisation works on advocacy for and sensitisation around people with Albinism, and as result of the interest in me as a public speaker, the publicity of the organisation was enhanced. There was also an increased interest in the cause, call and demands of our organisation, which expanded our opportunities.
Furthermore, through the broadened public speaking boundaries, I started speaking at National and International levels at various conferences, workshops and conventions.
This has helped to change the public image and attitude towards persons living with Albinism from being social outcasts and rejects to being included in societal and national programs.
I read books like Think Big and Gifted Hands by Ben Carson and Rich Woman by Robert Kiosaki.
I listened to motivational speakers like Hon Nalule Safia, Margaret Kigozi, Morris Cerrulo, Nick Vujicic, Joyce Meyer and Oprah Winfrey.
Nawejje Doreen Mayanja is a Ugandan woman living positively with Albinism. Doreen holds a Bachelor of Arts in CIAD, a Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Product Development, a Certificate in Arts in Medicine Makerere University and a Certificate in Adult Education.
Doreen developed her skill of public speaking by:
All of the above has contributed to the confidence Doreen now has when speaking in public.