Dr. Nicodeme Hakizimana

2023 IVLP Impact Award Project: Advocating for Effective Inclusive Education for Marginalized Learners with Albinism to Increase School PerformanceRwanda

Dr. Nicodeme Hakizimana is an activist with albinism who was born in the northern province of Rwanda in the volcanic region of Musanze. In his first year of university, he started fighting for the rights of persons with albinism in Rwanda, and he founded the Organization for Integration and Promotion of People with Albinism (OIPPA). Through his advocacy, Dr. Hakizimana has brought positive changes in the disability movement as the Rwandan government revised laws and took measures to protect and prevent skin cancer for persons with albinism. Along with a track record in advocacy strategies, he has experience in project management, proposal writing, resource management and mobilization. His experience resulted in having effective communication with donors, developing organizational strategies, creating policies and liaising the governing body of the organization. Dr. Hakizimana holds both a master's degree in education planning, Management and Administration from Mount Kenya University as well as a doctorate in Theology from Minnesota Graduate School of Theology. He works to support young disabilities organizations and fight for positive change. 

2023 IVLP Impact Award Project: Advocating for Effective Inclusive Education for Marginalized Learners with Albinism to Increase School Performance

The project raised awareness about albinism and the challenges faced by people with albinism in the education system. It has reached 600 teachers, 120 parents, and 60 students with albinism. This has led to an increased understanding among education officials, teachers, parents, and students about the needs and rights of people with albinism. 

It focused on the inclusion of students with albinism as a method of increasing school performance. The project included three key activities: first, the organization of a meeting with the district and sector education officers to discuss how local officials can create an inclusive school environment to increase the performance of learners with albinism. Second, a workshop for parents and students with albinism was hosted to share with them local advocacy strategies and discuss the role of parents on school performance. Following this, a two-day workshop was dedicated to learners with albinism where they learned about self-advocacy, combatting self-stigma and discrimination.

60 students with albinism were equipped with advocacy skills and encouraged to speak up for themselves. This has helped them to overcome the challenges they face in school and improve their academic performance 

2022 IVLP Impact Award Project: Building Partnerships for Effective Inclusion of Marginalized Persons with Albinism

District development programs aimed to improve the living conditions of vulnerable people with disabilities. However, the albino community in the Musanze district of Rwanda has often been excluded from the discussion. This project worked to initiate strong partnerships between the Organization for Integration and Promotion of People with Albinism (OIPPA), civil society organizations, and service providers to push for the inclusion of people with albinism in local development programs.

127 participants attended public discussions about the issues that hinder persons with albinism from being included in and benefiting from local development programs. OIPPA leaders attended different workshops and met with civil society representatives and service providers to discuss challenges facing people with albinism. Additionally, the event sparked a larger conversation about albinism with local officials and community members. The project also equipped organizations with the skills needed to tackle community inclusion challenges and build long-term partnerships on local and national levels that can expand to other districts.

"We, children with albinism do not have any persons to encourage our education...I thank the organizers of this activity to bring us together and show us that it is possible for us to study and became strong people in the world." - Student

IVLP Exchange Experience

Nicodeme was a participant in the IVLP Project A Global Moment in Time: Reflections on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in 2021 and 2023, both organized by the U.S. Department of State and Meridian International Center.

U.S. Communities Visited in 2023

San Francisco, CA; Washington, DC; Kalamazoo, MI

U.S. Communities Visited Virtually in 2021

Phoenix, AZ; Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Colorado Springs, CO; Washington, DC; Orlando, FL; Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; Detroit, MI; Kalamazoo, MI; Minneapolis, MN; Cleveland, OH; Portland, OR

Country: Rwanda

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