Samuel Niyomugabo proves that disability is not inability

Samuel Niyomugabo, a disabled student at the University of Rwanda. Photo: Dieudonne Nsimiyimana

Some people assume that people with disabilities hardly accomplish difficult tasks, thus they are seen as weak people. However, Samuel Niyomugabo, a University of Rwanda student in journalism and communication, will soon be graduating despite being visually impaired.

“People are always mistaken about us. We, the visually impared, can do tasks just as other people do,” he says.

Niyomugabo lost his sight at the age of three and both his parents at nine. But he appreciates that his family made it possible for him to enroll into school.

”I am tremendously lucky to be born in a family that loved and cared about me so much that they gave me the opportunity to go to school. I know that there is nothing that others can do that I cannot. They go to school and so do I,” Niyomugabo said.

According to Jean Paul Mbonigaba, his teacher in primary school, Niyomugabo was one of the best students whom every teacher wished to teach.

“I knew Samuel when he was a little boy. I could see him coming to school every day in the company of his old grandmother. He was an ambitious and courageous boy in a way that amazed me each time I saw him,” Mbonigaba recalls. “He was a talented and hardworking boy which led to his great performance in class.”

Niyomugabo said, “I discovered that going to school was the only weapon to achieve my goals.”


In addition, he added, “being literate could help me connect with other people, be exposed to the environment and prove wrong those who doubt on our ability.”
He did his secondary studies at HVP Gatagara, a school for students with disabilities.
In his advanced level, Niyomugabo did literature and languages.

One of his dreams is to be a role model to his peers. Moreover, he is keen to encouraging families with disabled children to help them embrace opportunities, including access to education.

Niyomugabo says that he does whatever it takes to fulfill his responsibilities as a student.
“I have software in my computer which I use while studying, doing my assignments as well as exams. But, it’s a challenge when lecturers give unexpected assignments when I don’t have my laptop in class,” Niyomugabo said.

Patrick Niyigena, his classmate, says that he is always astonished by Niyomugabo’s commitment.


Personally, Samuel surprises me every day. He meets deadlines and arrives on time in class. I am sure that his dedication and discipline will make him a great person regardless of his disability,” Niyigena says.

Leverian Havugimana, his uncle, says Niyomugabo has always been an exemplary child since his childhood.

“I saw him growing up, I always wondered how his life would be. I am so proud of my son and believe that he will achieve more in life because he is hard working man,” Havugimana says.

In class, Niyomugabo has never had to repeat a course and will be graduating this academic year. He says he looks forward to establishing an organisation that will “help visually impaired people to rise and shine.”

This article was co-written with Nicole Giraneza.