I heard the news yesterday that my friend, Taija Heinonen (Executive Director of Abilis Foundation), passed away during her trip in Tanzania. She left me many things and I would like to share some of those with you.
I learned to know her when I started my PhD study at Helsinki University in 2000. She always took her precious time for me whenever I wanted to meet her and interview her. She appreciated my study and encouraged me to continue it. When I was completing my PhD, I was concerned with my future as a researcher of disability and development in Finland. It is not one of the major themes that could attract much attention of research funders. In addition, I am a foreigner here. She then asked me to conduct an evaluation work for Abilis Foundation, where I learned many fundamental issues around the theme of disability and development. That experience has definitely led me to this Ugandan project.
Taija also invited me to become her personal assistant. By the way, her personal assistants were mostly those from Southern countries living in Finland. She was willing to employ those who have difficulty in finding a job in Finland. She is well known for her works in Southern countries, but she was making changes also in Finland starting from her personal level. I respect her so much in that, too.
When I visited Uganda last time, people remembered Taija very much because she travelled Uganda with her husband. They saw Taija in her wheelchair cared and loved by her husband. Her visit encouraged many Ugandan women with disabilities to believe in their future. I’m sure many people in different countries were encouraged in a similar way.
Taija was modest and strong. Thank you Taija.
Jukka visited Uganda on September 2008. A report of this travel will follow soon. Meanwhile, we share with the blog readers the experience of Jukka's research assistant Kaddu Zachary, who did a great job during Jukka's visit and most likely we will be cooperating with him in the future too. Thank you Kaddu! Enjoy Kaddu's writing...
Jukka and Kaddu in the Parliament House in Kampala -->
Personal Perspectives on Disability – Uganda
Written by Kaddu Zachary
Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in
The Government of Uganda attaches considerable importance to the situation of persons with disabilities in its policies and programmes. The Constitution of the
In Uganda, the estimated number of people with disabilities (PWDs) range between 7% and 10% that is ranging between 1, 540,000 and 2,200,000 people of the total population (UNHS, 2005/06). Empirical studies assert that disability in
Experience has taught me a lot. Being a PWD who has grown in a traumatizing situation were the community looks at you objectively, I have learnt that the road to a happy life is struggling the hard way to achieve what you want in life. As a disabled person, the fundamental issues we PWDs need to understand are; respecting our selves, self-worth, gaining self-confidence and above all ‘learning to accept who we are.’ We PWDs need to accept ourselves and the situations we go through, this will change the society’s perception of who we are thus became accepted by others .
On the part of development in disability, this may not be a one, two or five year plan to achieve rather a step by step issue. Drawing from one writer that ‘…. No need for hurry in Africa’, there should be a systematic way things should be done to benefit all PWDs or else a few will benefit and the majority will not share on such benefits arising out of the efforts made. Human rights of PWDs should be put on the forefront and people, governments and any one who impends and hinders the attainment of them should be held accountable and responsible thus justice apprehended.
I believe with the enforcement of disability legislations and holding our governments or people responsible for jeopardizing our human rights, this world will became a friendly place for all PWDs.
My experience with Jukka in Uganda
I wish to extend my sincere gratitude to Jukka for selecting me as his Research Assistant during his visit in September 2008 to Uganda. Well it was my grate pleasure to host him here in Uganda and I was able to learn a lot from him. As we shared experiences about our lives, I took note that it is always out of struggle, commitment and determination to hold on even in times when things get worse that we achieve our goals in life. During this period as we visited a number of Disabled people and their organisation, I came to learn that we the disabled people ought to work together like termites do when building there home in order to achieve our goals. If we continue to work in isolation, then we shall not be heard and the decision-makers will always make decisions for us. It’s the right time if we started participating and demand for those human rights that we ought to have.
It was great having you – Jukka here in Uganda and our friendship as well as information sharing shall keep us together. I hope and pray that together with others became the leading ‘disability Activists’ with a vision of ensuring that ‘even for the most unheard or marginalized disabled person in the world is granted his/her human rights though by state, political or opinion leaders, and our sisters and brothers the non-disabled.’
Mr. Kaddu Zachary
Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration (Candidate)
Faculty of Social Science,
Makerere University, Kampala - Uganda
Email: kadduzachary (@) yahoo.com