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On 2nd April 2019, Airtel Rwanda marked the Autism Awareness Day in partnership with the Ministry of Public Service and Labour and the Rwanda Parent’s Initiative on Autism (RPIA) at a ceremony which was highlighted by lighting blue the Kigali Convention Centre dome.
World Autism Awareness Day is a day designated by the United Nations (UN) to celebrate, accept and increase understanding of the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) around the world. It is estimated that 70 million people worldwide live with Autism, a condition characterized by challenges with communicating, socializing and repetitive behaviour.
“For the first time in Rwanda, a major landmark, the Kigali Convention Center was lit in blue to join the world in promoting awareness for the Autism Spectrum Disorder. Airtel Rwanda will continue to raise awareness to push for acceptance of people living with Autism across the country. This is also in line with our corporate social initiatives” said Airtel Rwanda Human Resource Director, Andry Henintsoa Ratsimbason.
Autism currently affects very many children across the globe with several diagnosed and undiagnosed cases in Rwanda and the region. The families of these children are faced with many challenges with very few education centres equipped to handle Autistic children. ASD manifests in many different ways and it is often misdiagnosed due to a few medical experts.
“RPIA is a Rwandan NGO formed by around 200 parents who have children with autism. It aims at having a Rwandan society where persons with autism are able to achieve their full potential and a dignified life. Airtel supported us to kick start an awareness campaign to ensure everyone in Rwanda and beyond well understand autism. We expect more women and men, girls and boys, policymakers, the private sector and civil society especially in Rwanda will enhance their understanding on autism so as to include, love, protect and support children and adults with autism. We are grateful to Airtel to for all the support” said Clement Kirenga, Secretary General, RPIA.