Fearless Fifteen Story | Ritah Ssanyu

The series of FEARLESS FIFTEEN STORY is an outcome of "More than Skin Deep", a passion-project by artist, Debasmita Dasgupta (Singapore) and poet, Claire Rosslyn Wilson (Barcelona). This poster is inspired by the courage of Ritah Ssanyu from Uganda.
Ritah's True Story >>

“Let no one think they cannot make a difference” were Ritah Ssanyu’s enabling words in her interview with RISE coalition.

Ritah who is an entrepreneur, craftswoman and mother of two, has made a significant difference in her own life and the lives of fellow survivors in her home country of Uganda. Through her craft, resolute efforts to fight for a better life for her children and activism against acid violence, she has proven that it is time that people stop undermining survivors and provide them with equal rights and work opportunities. She has stated countless times that although she has now almost recovered from the attack, her biggest challenge has always been the stigma.

Ritah suffered an attack in 2006 when she was only 18 and to this day, isn’t sure who the perpetrator was and why they targeted her. She had to drop out of college to tend to her injuries. She didn’t let the attack stop her however, and enrolled in a diploma in Business Administration two years into her recovery.

Now a professional and successful craftswoman, Ritah makes intricate handmade jewellery and charmingly vibrant food baskets, handbags and footwear. However, her path into self-employment wasn’t without its roadblocks. Regardless of her evident talent as an artisan, it was difficult for her to find a job or buyers for her products due to the stigma around victims of acid attacks. Fortunately, through her affiliation with RISE, she was able to find a market for her products and gradually became financially independent and was able to provide herself and her children with a happy and fulfilled life.

This workplace discrimination against survivors, and the general injustice of law, is what Ritah has been passionately advocating against. “We need to spread this gospel that acid attacks do happen and that they need to be put to an end. We will all rise and see this deadly monster come to an end.”

In her personal life, Ritah defines herself as a happy and hardworking woman and, like most mothers, dreams of seeing her children excel. She also wishes to build a craft centre where people can buy and learn how to make craft items. She believes that “No matter what happens in life, no matter what you go through, however hard it may be, there is always a way out. And also, to know that there are survivors who need help, who have lost hope, and only need a helping hand for them to be happy and lead a normal life just like other people.”

--- narrated by Isha Bhattacharya

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Strategy & Engagement Partner: Creative Arts Social, Singapore
Creative Arts Social (CAS) is Singapore’s biggest arts community specialising in arts engagement for adults.
Media Partner: Arts illustrated Magazine
Arts Illustrated is an Indian based arts and design magazine dedicated to understanding the contemporary arts landscape and creating a more inclusive ecosystem for the arts in the country.

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