Thursday, November 16, 2017

He Called Her At Midnight

"Alexandra. I hope I didn't wake you", he said.
"No. I am up finalizing a design."
She heard him draw a deep albeit shaky breath. Like he was mentally bracing himself for what he was about to say. Hearing him do so put her on edge. The call itself had thrown her mind and emotions off kilter. To hear him do so before revealing his reasons for the late night phone call didn't bode well.
"Max... What's wrong?"
"Alexandra... She... I need you..."
Max was never a stutterer. If anything; he was the one person you could rest assured would find the right words, no matter the situation. His incoherent reply meant the situation was a lot worse than she could imagine.
"What is it?", she asked. "Tell it to me at once because you're scaring me."
With that; her thoughts raced over every possible situation that could get him to act this way. Try as she may; she couldn't find a plausible reason that would explain his current behavior. She was about to prod him for an explanation when his hushed words cut off her thoughts.
"Tessa died." He whispered over the phone. "She must have slipped out of the apartment while I was in the shower."
His change in tone denoted the gravity of the situation. A situation, it seemed, he couldn't bring himself to accept. Every word out of him came in slow, shaky tones that brooked no interruption.
Tears rushed to her eyes as she tried to stifle a sob while listening to the gory details. Marc- his next door neighbour, had found the little dog whimpering and covered in blood on the way back from his late night jog. He'd immediately scooped it up and rushed to Max's apartment after recognising her spotted tail.
Alexandra could only imagine what this loss would do to him. Tessa was his world. The last tangible link to a past he refused to let go of. The one thing he swore was the only good thing out of it. Knowing how much Tessa meant to him made her glad for the fact that they were able to share her last moments together - in the safe haven of his arms where she had known so much love and comfort.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Your Face On Mine

I don't know how to kiss.
But, I do know,
I want to feel your face on mine.
To look into your deep-set eyes,
Until all I see is my reflection.
Rub the tip of my nose with yours,
And prolong the anticipation.
To feel you draw breath,
As you prepare to drink in my taste.
Watch my hands,
As they wind themselves around your neck.
Pulling you closer,
Into our embrace.
While we slowly kindle,
The fire that sizzles between us.

I don't know how to kiss.
But, I do know,
I want to feel your face on mine.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

When the Rose Colored Glasses Wear Off

An image of Kampala Serena Hotel

Kampala Serena Hotel is one of the best hotels an able-bodied person could ever find themselves in. However, the same sentiment can't be held by a Person with Disabilities. In fact, there is a lot more to be desired, for a Five Star Hotel.
The issue of accessibility is a problem that continues to plague the service industry and Kampala Serena is no exception. The hotel has no provision for ramps at the entrance to ease the movement of Persons with Disabilities especially the wheelchair bound and Calipher users. The restrooms are either a floor above or below the actual location of the conference. Woe unto a guest with disability needing to use the restrooms.
The call of nature is one we all know that can't be ignored but when faced with this kind of situation; guests with disabilities limit their intake of fluids to avoid drawing attention to them by being bodily carried up and down the stairs to access the restrooms.
President Museveni introduced the Affirmative Action act that gives top priority to Persons with Disabilities, the elderly and pregnant women. This act has not only been in effect for a couple of years but is standard practice in the service industry, for example, banks, hospitals and a few hotels. Sadly, this is not the case for Kampala Serena and its staff.
During the 2017 National Family Planning Conference, Persons with Disabilities were forced to endure standing for hours on end in long queues at the service stations with staff looking on instead of extending offers of help. It is through prodding by fellow guests that saw them spring into action and help guests with disabilities.
Ms. Jennifer Musisi and her team at Kampala City Council Authority should take a break from investigating the compliance of malls in relation to the Public Buildings Act and scrutinize these hotels. They, more than anything, need to be more compliant with the Public Buildings Act despite their status in the service industry.
Along with this; event organizers - most especially Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, need to put a lot of thought on the needs of guests with disabilities attending their conferences. Disabled People's Organizations sink in a lot of money to be part of these national activities. Having their needs overlooked is not only unacceptable but doesn't reflect well on both the organizers and hosts.
 They should also include Persons with Disabilities on their committees before deciding on the choice of venue and setting. Accessibility is uncompromisingly Key for a Person with Disability. For an events planning committee to seat and make a decision based on ambiance, location and environment without the involvement of Persons with Disabilities is to hand them the short end of the stick. There are other five star hotels in good locations, are disability friendly and sensitive, with far better services than Kampala Serena Hotel.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Access To Information

I met our  AIGP Asan Kasingye at the event
I had the pleasure of attending a public dialogue on Access to Information hosted by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) and the company of Uganda Government representatives from Ministers, Departments and Agencies.
The topic at hand was what government agencies had done to enable the public access information and majority of the replies from the representatives ranged from social media activity where citizens get timely responses, development of web portals for information dissemination and accountability, not forgetting magazines.
As much as the strides are notable especially in this digital age; I felt these public servants focused much more on the minority of users that is the technologically savvy urban person than the layman person who would like to access this information and represents majority of the population.
In a population of 38 million people as of June 2016, internet usage and access is at 31% with an even lower margin from a disability point of view. Many cannot afford the basic phone let alone smart phones which remain the cheapest method of internet and information access. Their low income statuses cannot sustain the possession of a smart phone coupled with the purchase of data.
Information access remains beleaguered by computer illiteracy where persons with disabilities are concerned. They lack basic skills in computer use if presented with one and it is far worse for blind persons with disabilities who need specialized equipment like JAWS (Job Access with Speech) which comes at a cost.
A lot of sensitization campaigns need to be carried out to inform the public on the availability of information access on prior mentioned platforms. They need to be shared and use tutored for full utilization because not all are knowledgeable of their existence.
To cap it off; the impenetrable mountainous terrain has made wider spread and coverage impossible invariably limiting access to both the internet and information in the deeper villages of the country.

More needs to be done to propel information access on a wider coverage regardless of the availability of services and tools. They alone cannot do much for that person with a disability living in a far off village without so much as awareness of their availability and use. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Disability and the Media

Uganda Media Women’s Association and Mama FM recently held an Editors Dialogue between representatives of Disabled People’s Organizations and News Editors from different Media Houses to deliberate on how best to promote disability sensitive reporting. A much needed endeavor as stories inspired by Persons with Disabilities rarely make front page news, and if they do; they come from a biased background of helplessness and victimization which makes it hard to address their problems.

I didn’t get the chance to attend the meeting in person but followed its coverage on the Uganda Media Women’s Association twitter handle, where I read a tweet quoting a journalist from the Daily Monitor saying, “Persons with Disabilities stories always have the same issues. We need variety and different angles to stories.” I was rather appalled to know that someone from the media could have the nerve to make such a blasé remark. 

We read about poverty, disease, poor infrastructure on a daily basis without anyone growing tedious of the topics; not even the media houses that continue to fill their pages with these problems nor the journalists that cover them. What makes the stories of Persons with Disabilities any different? Is it the subject? The thorny background of disability or the notion that front page coverage of disability related stories won’t make papers fly off the shelves? How does someone from a Media House expect to have a different angle to a static problem without coverage to bring upon change?

The perception that stories of Persons with Disabilities are of no import since they are static and do not bring huge sales are what brought about the Editors Dialogue. For a representative from a big Media House to sit within the meeting and utter something so callous shows that we still have a long way to go if we want coverage of stories of Persons with Disabilities treated with the impartiality that a Journalist is supposed to uphold.

Friday, June 23, 2017

You Never Cared

You never cared.
What I don't understand is why you're taking so much of my thoughts, lately?!
Why does your name pop up in my moments of sadness?
I shouldn't even ask this because you found me at my most vulnerable. As much as giving you the oars to my boat was freeing, you caused a lot more damage than I expected.
A year and half later; unmarred by your poor attempt at communication, why does your name suddenly pop up in my thoughts?
What you don't know is; the first quota of the year has been more than splendid my side. The one thing I've been unable to complain about is my life and all that's happening. In fact, I'm more appreciative of it-the way it is.
When your name pops up, it hangs like a shadow on the fringes of this happiness. I don't want that. I don't want anything to do with you casting shadows over my glow!
You never cared.
So, why does your name keep popping up in my thoughts?
I weaned myself off giving permanent feelings to temporary people, chasing nonexistent emotions and affection. Feelings and emotions that should come naturally with ease between people who actually care for one another. The girl you thought you knew reverted to the person she was before giving up her oars for you.
Knowing you never cared should be a barrier to your occupancy of my thoughts.

He Called Her At Midnight

"Alexandra. I hope I didn't wake you", he said. "No. I am up finalizing a design." She heard him draw a deep ...