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.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Year Older.

I turned a year older on the 22nd of May. Am I a little wiser? Smarter? Not in the least but a whole lot better emotionally and mentally.
Getting older last year was such a source of turmoil that to look back on it and not feel a pinch of the emotions it wrought is a blessing in itself.
I've never been filled with so much despair and impotence over my lot in life nor have I ever failed at everything I attempted to do more than I did last year.
The year itself was a full study in patience that when it came down to the crunch; there was nothing to do except bend. To the will of God and life itself. I discovered that a person can only try so much without losing themselves in the process. So I caved. I accepted the situations as they arose and left the rest to God. 
The funny thing about life is that turning points happen when you're in a different frame of mind. By then; I was firmly into acceptance of the way things were that when the turning point came; I didn't know whether to laugh or just crumble into a little heap and weep. 
I did neither of those nor did I express any form of excitement. I guess I was still caught up in disbelief that by the time it wore off and contract signed (this year), the little window of excitement had become shut. 
After 9 months of failed attempts, I became gainfully employed. Inasmuch as it was a hard year, the ending was absolutely perfect. It made me realize how nice it is to end a year with a promise. A little bit of hope to hold on and look forward to in the future. 
Alhamdulilah to another year. For the gift of life and chance to do better and be better. All I ask for this year is patience - with myself mostly.
Aside from that; my life, right now, may not be as perfect as people think it should be but it's enough.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Shattered Heart

Her head held high,
She stands tall and proud,
Making solemn promises,
Never to see the one who stole her heart.

Beneath the facade,
Pieces of her broken heart are trying to break the wall that's keeping the pressure in.

If only she could be alone for a minute,
Free the jagged pieces of her shattered heart.

But she has to hold onto the facade a moment longer.
Which she will!
If her will doesn't break under the pressure,
Let her down like her heart did.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

He Called Her At Midnight

He called her at midnight. She was so startled by the sound of her ringtone she could barely think beyond seeing his name flash across her phone screen. In that moment; she tried to recall the last time she'd talked to him and realized she could no longer place the sound of his voice. No matter how she tried, the voice she'd loved so much had faded from memory. With a furstrated sigh, she gave up and concentrated on the call.
Why was he calling now? Why today of all days?
It was almost five years to the day they said their final goodbye. The day she had looked into his vacant eyes and whispered 'goodbye' to him. Burying the love they shared along with it. That day was quite unforgetable that thinking about it now brought a slight chill to her arms. The air had been so frigid she had felt the chill down to her bones. Like God was freezing every fibre of her love for him in time, in a place she could no longer visit because of the memories.
Over the years; the chill had thawed to be replaced by a warmth she was beginning to revel in. Until his name flashed across her phone screen. She knew she couldn't let it ring intermittently, because when the love of your life calls, the call never goes unanswered. Alexandra took two deep breaths to still her racing thoughts and picked up the phone. "Hello? Alexandra, are you there?"
Every little scenario Alexandra had conjured up in the past five years couldnot prepare her for this moment. She had dreaded it ever since their goodbye. And now; it was finally upon her. The moment she would say 'hello' to him again. All the little scenarios and mental peptalks disappeared like ash beneath a strong wind, as memories of their time together chased each other across her mind, in preparation for the words that would let him back into her life.