| My name is Deogratius Chami, but I like to be called Deo. I am a new Mosaic International fellow at Building a Caring Community (BCC) in Moshi, Tanzania. I am Tanzanian by birth, and was raised in Kibosho, a village on the slope of Mount Kilimanjaro. I was the sixth of eleven children. As I grew up I was athletic, especially playing football (which Americans call soccer.) I was interested in science in my earlier school days.
At age 13, I was in an accident that resulted in me having paraplegia and becoming a wheelchair user. I faced many challenges, but still completed school and college. While attending college, I became a change agent for persons with disabilities. The college administrators were very happy to have me, as I helped them to become aware of the issues of disabilities, especially the challenges that people with disabilities often face in their environment. This is especially true here in Tanzania, where accessibility is limited in many places for those of us who use wheelchairs.
I graduated from college in Community Economic Development. This allows me to bring experience with many different organizations in our city to the BCC program. I am also the first Tanzanian wheelchair user to climb Mount Kilimanjaro up to its peak. I accomplished this goal last summer, purposely to create awareness on issues of disabilities at large.
l am very happy working as an Mosaic International fellow at BCC because l am gaining strong experience in my area of studies. During my first months at BCC, I have advocated for our children and families, and provided technical expertise in the area of accessibility. I work with my colleague Becca Berman, who is also a Mosaic International fellow, on projects that focus on strengthening the health services we provide to children and young adults and in our new project with the Moshi school authorities, to begin the first inclusive education program in the city at a public elementary school. As the year goes on, I also hope to use local or national media in building awareness with the general public.
Read about Rebecca Berman, Deo’s colleague and the other Mosaic International Fellow in Moshi this year.