In front of City Parents School sits a shoe shiner in a wheel-chair. Michael Kaziro is disabled but his hands are well built and earn him a living.
Kaziro recently got a baby girl but she has three fingers on each hand and her hands are paralysed. As if this trauma was not enough, two months ago KCC evicted him from his corner because he lacked a trading license.
He had nowhere to get the money to pay for a trading license. However Lady luck smiled on him, in the form of Joan Nahl. Nahl, the vice president of the International Womenâ€™s Organisation (IWO) is commited to helping people in wheel-chairs. She offered to repair his wheelchair and this when he gained the courage to share his tribulations with her.
On Kaziroâ€™s repaired tricycle are slogans like â€˜A man of seasonsâ€™ and â€˜Time will comeâ€™. Kaziro says these slogans help him focus on a bright future.
Kaziroâ€™ s story is sad but with a friend like Nahl, he has hope for a bright future.
â€œThis woman has helped me a lot. She repaired my wheel chair and gave me sh30,000 to pay my license. She has also given me a loan of sh50,000, she is a very kind woman,â€ he said.
At times Kaziro polishes over 15 pairs of Nahlâ€™s husbandâ€™s shoes. for which he is paid handsomely. â€œHer husband pays me well when I polish his shoes,â€ says Kaziro in Luganda.
As we leave Kaziroâ€™s workplace Nahl remembers Harriet Babirye who sits in front of Nsambya sharing hall. Just before you branch into the compound of Sharing Hall is Babirye in a wheel-chair selling sweets, envelopes and newpapers.
â€œThis woman lost her sight when her playmates pocked her in the eyes at a tender age. She is disabled, but can transport cement and jerrycans on her wheelchair,â€ narrates Nahl.
Nahl saw her one day as with three Jerry cans of water and a bag of cement on her laps. The next day Nahl placed a new cushion on Babiryeâ€™s wheel chair and now she is looking for money to replace the tyres which are old and worn out.
As soon as Babirye sees Nahl, she smiles.
I privately approach Babirye and ask, â€œWhat do you know about that muzungu I came here with?â€
â€œThat woman is friendly and kind,â€ she says .
Has she ever done anything for you? â€œYes at times she gives me loans of sh20,000 and she repaired my wheel chair. She is a good woman that is all I can say,â€ says Babirye.
â€œHowever, sometimes Nahl finds it hard to release money. Even when you plead, she may take days before she responds,â€ reveals Babirye.
Nahl says she learnt from a doctor friend that if a person uses a bad wheelchair, he or she can develop kidney problems. This motivated Nahl who has been in Uganda for three years to help people in wheel chairs in Kampala to get better ones.
Nahl is a wife to Dubby Malhalanovis, the general manager of Jubilee Insurance and they have adopted two children.
The girl is 10 years-old, while the boy is eight. Nahl has no children of her own. In addition to her adopted children, she is supporting two other Ugandan orphans. She takes care of 17-year-old Betty, who lives with Nahl in Muyenga and goes to city star secondary school and 16-year-old Tony of St. peters Nsambya. Nahl is not rich but with the little she has, she helps her community.
Nahl lives on Kironde road in Muyenga. One morning as she was driving her children to Heritage international school in Muyenga, the children saw a boy sitting on a wheel chair under a tree.
The children felt concerned that a disabled boy was seated under a tree with nothing to eat. They started taking the boy bread from home daily. â€œAfter a month, I got concerned and asked the boy, â€˜what do you want to do in life?â€™â€ says Nahl. â€œHe said he wanted to go to Makerere.â€
The boy said he had completed his Aâ€™levels, but had failed to apply for a course at Makerere because he had no money.
â€œI gave sh10,000 and told him to go and apply.â€ When he came back after two weeks, he had been admitted and had also applied to Makerere University fund for the disabled for a scholarship. Today Pascal is in second year doing quantitative Economics and is supported by Makerere University. Pascal was abandoned by his father when he was only seven months old and has since lived with his mother in Namuwongo. â€œPascal is the only person who drives a red wheel chair in Kampala,â€ Nahl says proudly. Nahl gives Pascal upkeep and picks him up from and drops him at the University at the end of each semester. He is the very first person wheel-chaired Nahl has ever helped.
â€œEvery time I see a person in a wheelchair I stop and find out in what condition the wheelchair is,â€ says Nahl.
Born in the United Kingdom, Nahl went to a technical college. After college, Nahl worked as an executive secretary in Naval college in the United Kingdom. After the Naval she went to the Nautical college also in the UK then to Canada where she worked for Thomas J.Bata. She met her husband who worked as director of personnel. They got married seven years later. Nahlâ€™s husband is an Asian.
Back in Canada Nahl had a fashion and cosmetics business which she forewent to join her husband in Uganda.
Nahlâ€™s charity work was influenced by mother Theresa. She says she met Mother Theresa several years ago on a flight from Calcutta to Bombay. Their flight was delayed and so Mother Theresa shared her experience with Joan Nahl for several hours before they landed.
â€œSince then I felt challenged to do similar work. The mission is big but God will help me,â€ says Nahl.
As we join Entebbe Road, Nahl sees a man in a wheel chair and says: â€œThat is Alex. I know him also. Can we stop and talk to him? No,â€ she hesitates, â€œWe shall be late and might miss Harriet,â€ Nahl decides.
â€œMy wheelchair mission is aided by two friends: one in Sweden and another in Spain,â€ explains Nahl as she drives us back to The New Vision. Ends
Her Heart Belongs To People In Wheel Chairs