Our story dates back 23 years when one of the founding members, Faustina, was in an accident that left her with a spinal cord injury (SCI). Being told she would never be able to walk again as a young woman was a death sentence. Alongside this life-changing disability, when she and her partner found out she was also pregnant, he left her alone to raise their child. This courageous woman went through an experience that transformed her life completely. Instead of giving up, she made a choice “to move forward” towards a life of purpose. From her vision, the seed that gave birth to the Songambele Initiative Organization fell on fertile soil.

Songambele is a grassroot community organization founded and operated by women living with disabilities, regardless of their race, culture, religion, or social status. It was established by women who faced stigma and discrimination due to both their gender and disability. This stigma affects their access to essential services such as healthcare, education, and employment, as well as how they are treated by their communities and social groups, including churches.

Initially serving as a support group for sharing experiences and providing mutual support, Songambele has grown from a small gathering of five members to an officially registered Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).  This registration, under government registration number NGO/00010039,

has empowered the organization to make a significant impact on the lives of women and girls with disabilities, especially those in rural areas.

Songambele is a Swahili Word Which Means "Move Forward"

Often, when individuals lose a limb or mobility due to accidents or illness, they typically undergo profound shock and trauma. Phrases like ‘You may never walk again…’ or ‘You may never use your arm again…’ can feel like a devastating life sentence.

Tragically, many accident victims who become disabled pass away within six months of leaving the hospital. People with disabilities often face severe economic hardship, struggling to meet basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. This forces some into begging or dependency on their families and communities.

For those with disabilities, everyday tasks like self-care, toileting, dressing, and mobility become monumental challenges. These are activities that able-bodied individuals often take for granted. The situation is even more humiliating when assistance is needed from family members or people of the opposite gender.

Women and girls with disabilities experience additional challenges, including stigma that affects their access to health care, education, employment, and acceptance within their communities and social circles, such as churches.

The needs of women with disabilities are particularly unique and complex.

In response to these issues, six individuals met on April 9th, 2009, to share their experiences and concerns. Two members had sustained spinal cord injuries in separate road accidents and use wheelchairs. The other four were closely involved in caring for disabled individuals. It was during this meeting that the decision was made to establish a support group aimed at addressing these significant challenges.

Mission

To promote and encourage good health, education, well-being, and social inclusion for women, girls, and children with disabilities in Tanzania.

Vision

Empowering Women, Girls, and Children with Disabilities to Live Independently with Dignity and Joy