Ocowon has been fishing for the last 20 years and says he is not about to stop until he has saved enough money to start a retail shop
Ocowoni vending fish in the trading centre. Photos by Vivian Agaba
Japier Ocowon, 37, a resident of Kiryamboga village, Tonya parish in Bureruka sub-county, Hoima district was born with severe crippled legs.
He crawls on his hands and buttocks and sometimes on the knees, but despite his disability, he refuses to stay home and wait for his uncle to provide for him basic necessities or go on the streets to beg.
On a daily basis, he wakes up as early as 2:00am and crawls from his home to the shores of Lake Albert to fish.
The father of five says despite the challenges he goes through, he has to work hard to ensure he lives a better life and also to educate his children.
“For many years, I have been crawling on my hands, buttocks and knees to go fishing and I get bruised. But despite the difficulties, I have to persevere because I have a dream,” he says
“I want my children to live a better life than mine. I grew up from a humble family. I dropped out of school at the age of 17 due to lack of school fees. I do not want this to happen to them. I want to educate them until they complete school,” he adds.
Ocowon has been fishing for the last 20 years and says he will not stop until he saves enough money to start a retail shop.
Life changing after the tricycle
Ocowon says before he got the tricycle he missed out on many important community events such as attending church service and going to the health centre for medication.
But today, he is not only able to move around selling his fish, but is able to go to the nearby health centre for medical services, attend burials, marriage and other functions in the community.
“Thanks to this tricycle, my life has completely changed. It has turned my life around, I am now able to put fish on my tricycle and take it around for sale. I can also attend community meetings, especially those involving persons with disability,” he says.
Ocowon preparing his boats to start fishing
Ocowon is among the nine lucky people with severe disability that got tricycles and six others with different disabilities that got wheelchairs. The tricycles and wheelchairs were provided under a project known as Disability Rights Awareness and Advocacy Project being implemented in five sub-counties in Hoima district funded by Independent Development Fund (IDF) implemented by Hoima District Union of Persons with Disabilities (HUDIP).
The sub-counties are Buseruka, Bugambe, Kiziranfumbi, Kigorobya town council and Busiisi division in Hoima district.
The programmes co-ordinator, HUDIP, Gilbert Bigirwenkya said through the project which started in 2015 and ends in December, there has been great improvement when it comes to respect of rights of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in sub-counties where the project is being implemented.