“Why did other people die, and I’m still alive?” Frederick Ndabaramiye asks himself in the short documentary, I Am Able, by Isaac and Jacob Seigel-Boettner (Pedal Born Pictures). Emerging from the depths of the Rwandan genocide, Frederick’s life has become a testament to the human spirit, proving that “disabled” is just a term, not an identity.
In 1994, the Interahamwe militia claimed more than 800,000 Rwandan lives. At 15, Frederick was removed from a bus and told to kill his fellow passengers; when he refused, the Interahamwe cut off his hands. In Rwanda, people with physical and mental disabilities are seen as less useful and treated as second-class citizens. Frederick spent much of his recovery struggling to accept his new reality; sharing his story through painting and teaching helped him cope with the trauma.
In 2005, Frederick co-founded the Ubumwe Community Center to help children and adults with disabilities challenge the idea of what it means to be “able.” The UCC’s mission is to encourage self-worth and independence by providing people with disabilities with life skills and job training. By living by example, the UCC aims to elevate the global attitude toward people with disabilities. And the I Am Able Cycling Team has a special way of peddling that message, so to speak. Headed by Frederick, the I am Able Team is a disabled cycling team that rides through rural villages around the world spreading the message that disability does not mean inability.
The film I Am Able is just another vehicle for Frederick and the UCC to bring awareness to a population that is underestimated in nearly every culture around the world. And that’s a movement Toad&Co can get behind. Since 1997 we’ve partnered with Search, Inc. to positively change the lives of adults with disabilities by providing them with training and work opportunities. With Search, Inc. we co-founded the Planet Access Company, a third party logistics warehouse staffed by adults with disabilities. Every unit of Toad&Co clothing is picked, packed and shipped with unmatched reliability and enthusiasm by the PAC crew. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.