Making young disabled voices heard

Ashura Michael

The Young Voices programme empowered over 1,200 young people with disabilities across Africa and Asia to build their confidence to advocate for the rights of disabled people to schools, businesses and leaders. Ashura, was one of these young people, and she is now running for Senate in Kenya.

Ashura Michael from our young voices programme speaking at an event

Our interview with Ashura Michael

Ashura, 29, lost her hearing when she was four, following a bout of measles. In 2011, she joined the Young Voices programme.

Now an aspiring politician herself, Ashura credits her experience with Leonard Cheshire as the catalyst for her bid to become the first female deaf legislator in Kenya.

We caught up with Ashura and asked her to reflect on her journey.

Congratulations on launching your political campaign! What made you decide to run for Senate?

I have what it takes! As a young woman and a person with disability, I know what we go through, and I believe I am the change that is needed. There are many laws that I want to work on through the office of the Senate, and I want to help change the negative perspectives toward persons with disability.

What has been the response to your decision to run for senator?

I have received massive support from friends and family – even strangers. But campaigning has not been easy. Some question if I will manage and think that, because I am deaf, I won’t be able to address the issues. But it’s not something that is going to pull me down. I will fight as much as I can to prove nothing is impossible and we, persons with disabilities, should be at the table addressing the issues and giving our solutions.

Do you have any highlights from your time participating in Young Voices?

We achieved so much! One example is how we lobbied for sign language interpreters in all TV stations and public functions, which I am very proud of.

What would you want to say if you could send a message to our supporters?

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Leonard Cheshire family for their tireless support and for believing in this little girl. Without you, I don’t know where I would be.

So thank you, and let’s continue to impact more lives. I am one of the many reasons we should continue with these kinds of initiatives.

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