I wasn’t into taking the trip to Tororo where the celebrations were to be held but as an employee of civil society organisation I had to suck it up and go. The trip itself wasn’t that bad neither was the company. Majority of the problems arose in Tororo and if it hadn’t been for the cheerful celebrations and seeing so many persons with disabilities in one setting, I would automatically call Tororo one of the worst places I had been to-date.
The theme for 2015 was “Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities” and most of the speeches from the guests of honour were along those lines. Disabled persons need to be included and should participate in all areas like transportation, employment and education as well as social and political participation. However, the opportunities are quite limited for persons with disabilities and if available, they have to work twice harder than their able-bodied counterparts to prove they are worth the risk. That is if they manage to beat the perception that persons with disabilities are lazy and only want handouts.
I have come to learn that laziness and the lack of ambition has no bearing on disability both mentally and physically. It is in fact cross cutting because I have met so many people especially girls who would rather rest on their laurels and wait for hand-outs from well-wishers. And also met three persons with disabilities who I take as mentors because they are highly educated, intelligent and running sought after organisations. They make me believe I am not who I am for nothing and also show me that ambition is inbred not something one cultivates over time. Regardless of disability or not, if one is not ambitious one will never want to work a day of his/her life.
When it comes to education of persons with disabilities; most of the schools available do not do justice to them. I had the opportunity to work closely with two girls from the same university and suffice it to say, the experience left me with a not so good opinion of Kyambogo University. These girls were timid, spoke in whispers and hardly expressed themselves eloquently in English not to mention the degrees pursued. Persons with disabilities really need to pursue competitive degrees not Counselling and Guidance alone. Who said that is all they are able to do? Physical weakness has no implication whatsoever on mental capabilities unless the person is mentally challenged. Universities should encourage them to pursue challenging qualifications that will enable them to compete favourably for well paying jobs like their able-bodied friends instead of being held back.