KAMPALA - UK-based Jane Betts, who is the programme manager at Advantage Africa, was recently in Uganda to launch a tailoring project at Special Children Special People (SCSP) in Gaba, Bunga.
SCSP is a non-governmental organization that advocates and promotes an understanding of disability issues through education, mobilizing support for the dignity and rights of special needs people.
While at it, she was shocked to learn that Mustafa Kato, a young visually impaired man from in Wakiso district she met, has never been to school before.
“It’s very important to give him a chance to reach his potential. Indeed people like him have the same right to life in all its fullness,” she said.
(All photos by Gladys Kalibbala)
Launching the tailoring project
According to her, people with disabilities (PWDS) have the same rights as everyone else – right to have food, healthcare, shelter, education, to learn skills, earn an income and be included as a full member of their communities.
Betts sees these as God-given rights that “have always been there”, yet they were enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) only a few years ago.
“We should therefore be proud that the Ugandan government was among the very first countries to sign and ratify that convention, promising to ensure the full inclusion of people with disabilities in every aspect of life.”
Children with special needs at Special Children Special People (SCSP)
Guests checking out of the tailoring machines
At the launch of the tailoring project, Betts narrated a story of a blind young man called John back in UK who attained education up to university and later lived in his own small flat where he made friends and had a lively social life.
One day, she narrated, John’s family planned to visit him and he wanted to prepare for them some lunch. So he bought the ingredients and in his small flat, with great care, he prepared some sandwiches for them. And that as he did so, he declared “This is my independence day!”
Betts explained that the visually impaired John received his true independence after being able to care for other people and doing something for them.
“That’s what can make people like Kato happy and independent if we can give them help.”
Tailoring project will do just that
At the Gaba launch, the programme manager handed over 11 sewing machines, and said the equipment will help the special needs people and their families get their independence.
“They will learn skills to equip them for the future, help them to earn an income and contribute to the lives of their families and communities,” she said.
A variety of crafts are made at SCSP
On his part, the director for Special Children Special People, Moses Walusimbi, said that funds raised from the tailoring project will also help Special Children Special People to support more children with disabilities.
“It’s however unfortunate that instead of giving them a chance to build their confidence, learn, have fun and one day achieve their independence, many children are still hidden in isolation in their parent’s homes!” he lamented.
While calling out for community support, Walusimbi said the children at SCSP have learnt how to make sweaters and crafts.
“Give us as many orders [for sweaters and crafts] as possible because we are in position to handle them while promising you good quality.”
The centre received wheelchairs as well
SCSP has called for community support for their products like sweaters
According to Dr Naboth Coole, it is not right to refer to people with disabilities as disabled because “they can perform well once given proper education”.
He says parents of such children should take them to various places where they can get proper trainings to help them become self-reliant.
“Don’t look at their disability, instead look at the ability within them. Break barriers, open doors for an inclusive society for all,” he quips.