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Disability Activist, Yetnebersh Nigussie Shares 'Alternative Nobel Prize'
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Disability Activist, Yetnebersh Nigussie Shares 'Alternative Nobel Prize'

The Right Livelihood Award (a.k.a. Sweden’s alternative Nobel Prize) is a global award that commemorates and support people who come up with a practical and ideal solution for current challenges that need prompt attention.

On Tuesday, September 26, human rights lawyer Yetnebersh Nigussie received the coveted award.

The 35-year-old Ethiopia-based disability rights activist was named a joint winner of this year's Right Livelihood Award.

She was awarded 3 million Swedish crowns, which converts roughly to about $374,000.

The amount will be divided among the three joint winners. She was recognized for her inspiriting work supporting the rights and inclusion of individuals with disabilities.

“I really want to see a world where nobody is discriminated because of his or her disability or any other status," she told the Thompson Reuters Foundation.

Rather than telling people about her ability to contribute, Nigussie decided to show everyone that despite one disability, she still has 99 abilities.

The community scoffed at her when she lost her sight at the age of five; however, her parents left no stone unturned in a bid to support her.

"So everybody told my mum, 'Oh my god, it would be better if she dies,'" Nigussie told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in London.

Much to Nigussie's delight, her parents enrolled her at the Catholic boarding school for girls with disabilities. The school located in Ethiopia’s sprawling capital, Addis Ababa, changed her life for the better.

Nigussie deems education as the turning point in her life as it encouraged her to make a difference. She was one of the three women studying law at Addis Ababa University back in 2002.

But acquiring education was nothing short of arduous for Nigussie, who currently serves as a senior advisor at a charity that advocates for disability rights.

Through the whole of her five-year degree, Nigussie had to translate audio recordings of her legal books into Braille.

"Education was a turning point that changed my blindness into an opportunity,” she noted.

Yetnebersh Nigussie is among the first three women with vision impairment to go to law school. She helped to build the ECDD (Ethiopian Center for Disability and Development) and the Center for Students with Disabilities at the Addis Ababa University.

Among several other awards she has won so far, Nigussie considers the Right Livelihood Award as her biggest accolade.

Others who share the honor with her include Indian human rights lawyer, Colin Gonsalves, and Khadija Ismayilova, a female journalist who exposed government corruption in Azerbaijan. 

 

(Image Credit: tenaadam/YouTube)

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