A mission partner of Church Mission Society has received a Women of the Year award for her work with marginalised deaf and disabled people.
Susie Hart picked up the Window to the World award, one of just four prestigious Women of the Year awards, at a ceremony in London this week.
The award was given in recognition of her work with Neema Crafts, the organisation she founded in 2003 to train and employ deaf and disabled people in Iringa, Tanzania.
What started out as a tiny workshop with just three young deaf trainees has since grown to more than 40 employees, all deaf and disabled artisans who were trained by Neema Crafts in jewellery-making, weaving and paper making.
Its restaurant, staffed entirely by deaf chefs and waiters, this year won The Best British-Run Restaurant Overseas in the World. The organisation also runs a physiotherapy centre, which is currently treating over 150 children with disabilities.
Hart was nominated for the award by comedienne and presenter Sandi Toksvig, who visited Neema Crafts for a Bank Holiday edition of Radio 4s Excess Baggage.
In her acceptance speech she told of the difficulties faced by disabled people in Tanzania.
People with disabilities in Tanzania are amongst the poorest of the poor. They are excluded by their society socially, economically and educationally; are forced into street begging to support themselves, or are kept hidden away at home behind closed doors, such is the level of stigma attached to having a disability in Tanzania, she said.
They live without dignity or hope for their futures, in situations of desperate poverty on the margins of their society. Neema Crafts was started to try to reach out to meet the needs of these deeply oppressed people, to give them handicrafts training and employment opportunities and to seek to change negative attitudes towards them.
Hart said that the achievements of disabled adults at Neema Crafts would give hope to parents of disabled children and help them to see their childrens abilities first and foremost, rather than their disabilities.
She added: It is my very great privilege to receive this award on behalf of all the truly inspirational people with disabilities who continue to humble, amaze and inspire me every day with all they are achieving the face of such adversity.
Women of the Year awards also went to Annie Lennox, Zaha Hadid and Shara Brice. Christian Today