Posting by an Ugandan Friend: Christine Lule

<-- Christine is the board member of UNAD as the women' representative and the chairperson of the Deaf Women's Association which will be registered soon.
I was born in a remote district in Uganda about 138 km from Kampala the capital of Uganda where the stable food is green banana commonly know as “Matooke” and coffee as a cash crop.

I am born to Mr. Eliphaz Lule and Mrs. Gertrude Lule. My father doubled as a self employed business man and a peasant farmer while my mother was a traditional African house wife. I am known as the first born because the actually first born died shortly after birth. My parents had 11 children but only eight survived childhood, of the eight 3 are boys the rest girls.

I was born hearing and enjoyed my childhood greatly because my parents were fond of their children. At the age of 8, I suddenly fell ill with severe vomiting; I then became unconscious and was rushed to a hospital. The doctors discovered that I had eaten poison. After two days (I was told) I gained my conscious but could hear nothing. I had lost my sense of hearing. Imagine what a disappointment I received when on checking the doctor confirmed that am now permanently deaf. I was in hospital for four months i.e. August – December. I was almost handicapped by the illness because I could either walk on my own or feed myself. Everything was done by my mother or her sister who assisted her because she (mother) had a baby of 6months. Well, although I was deaf I was happy that the devil had added more misery to his list of defeat.

On discharge we returned home but I no longer shared the jokes or the happiness with my siblings or friends. It took me a long time before I was completely healed. When I was fit I returned to school. To my surprise fellow student started mocking me by holding their ears ( indicating that am now deaf ) and laughed at me that I lost my cool and at times I resorted to fighting them or cried a lot. It was disheartening, to see the pupils I played with laughed with mocking me. To make matters worse my mother’s love began to fade. She was less interested in me that I wished I had died. It was Father who came to my rescue; he comforted me and told me deafness in not the end of the road.

I hated home and started to move with my father. He took me to Uganda School for the Deaf, where a new chapter of life awaited me. At first the Deaf children resented me because I could talk. They thought I hear and only pretending (not to hear). When I mastered sign language I was transformed. I studied hard and finished my study to the school. The Headteacher transferred me to a hearing school to continue my education to a higher standard because that time there was only one deaf school in Uganda and its standard was low.

I completed my studies in “0” level, and then took up CBR (Community-based rehabilitation) course and Sign language courses where I got certificates. I could not continue because in those days people despised the deaf yet had no money to go for abroad for further studies. I have accepted myself as deaf and do not look back. I first worked with World Opportunity International as administrator then with Uganda National Association of the Deaf as a sign language Instructor, and again as a Field officer under the same organisation but with the support of OXFAM before I joined Action on Disability and Development as a program coordinator (Deaf programme).

During my work I have experienced working with the most marginalized groups, deaf people without sign language skill and the poorest of the poor. I do enjoy working with them because I assist the uplifting of their standard of living and sensitize the parents and the community that deafness does not mean inability. It is the community we live in that disables us because they always refer to us as “kasiru” literally translated as “stupid.” We are not stupid. The problem is communication differences, i.e. we use sign language and the community use spoken language. Some have embraced sign language and made communication easy. Others have become our interpreters. Yet there are those who are hard to change. One cannot change the world in a short time. We hope in future we will have a positive, well developed country.
Christine Lule
Dear Ugandan disability activists,
If you are also interested in posting your life/organisational stories, please let me know.
Thank you, Hisayo


The World Federation of the Deaf Open Door Event

By Hisayo Katsui

On 13th March, the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) had an afternoon event to celebrate/announce the official registration of the association to the Finnish Registry. The following information is what I heard during the presentations of the current president, Markku Jokinen, and the previous president, Liisa Kauppinen (in the picture).

WFD is the umbrella organisation for the organisations of Deaf persons (when they stress their identity as a linguistic minority, they call themselves "Deaf" with big "d.") It was established in Italy in 1951 and currently has 130 member countries, of which 84 are Southern countries. The WFD has been advocating the human rights, particularly their rights for sign language, for the estimated 60 million Deaf persons around the world.

Markku also presented the findings of the new report of the WFD, "Deaf People and Human Rights," by Hilde Haualand and Colin Allen published in January 2009. It's the biggest study on the human rights of Deaf people covering the statutory services of 93 countries. They are almost all Southern countries, as the report did not focus on neither Europe nor North America. The main report is based on the findings of seven regional reports, that are also available on the WFD website (www.wfdeaf.org/projects.html).

The main report is, in my opinion, somewhat superficial, as findings from 93 countries were summarised. As the researchers themselves admit in the end of the report, the main weakness of the report is lack of analysis on the quality and accessibility of the services. For instance, the report mentions that there are this and that number of interpreters, or some TV programmes have simultaneous sign language interpretation. But are they accessible? Do they have TV and electricity at home??? When I think of Ugandan people, I had to ask these questions all the time. More qualitative data is found in the regional reports instead, which I personally enjoyed more for understanding Ugandan situation. This, however, is a very important report that covered so many countries to understand the discriminatory trend in all countries in many ways. It is worth reading!

The event was informative and interesting. Thank you for the organiser of the event!


Posting by an Ugandan Friend: Aggrey Olweny

<--Aggrey is in the middle counting the votes.

I am Aggrey Olweny. We first met during the General Assembly of UNAD and subsequently the NUDIPU G.A. At UNAD, I was a polling assistant if you remember a team from Action on Disability and Development Uganda(ADD), I was the youngest with physical disability. At the moment I am working with Action for Youth with Disabilities Uganda, A national umbrella organisation of all youth with Disabilities in Uganda. This organisation was formed in 2008 with the aim of advocating for the rights of Youth with Disabilities. You recall that from the many legally registered Disabled people's organisations in Uganda, none of them has a specific focus on youth with Disabilities yet the youth have unique and specialised needs that can best be addressed by themselves. This is why this organisation was formed. We are looking for partners both at National, Regional and Global levels. We are also looking for funders who can fund our projects and forwarding our profile to be included in your write up. This will enable us get access to many potential partners across the globe.

Aggrey Olweny (aggreykenny@yahoo.com)
Ag. Executive Director.
Action for Youth with Disabilities Uganda.


Dear Ugandan disability activists,
If you are also interested in posting your life and organisational stories, please write to me.


"Disability and Poverty in Uganda" Report Published by the Ugandan Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development

By Hisayo Katsui

The Ugandan Government has published a very interesting report entitled "Disability and Poverty in Uganda: Progress and Challenges in PEAP Implementation 1997-2007." (PEAP stands for poverty eradication action plan and corresponds with poverty reduction strategy papers in other countries.)

This is a big achievement that the key Ministry has paid attention to disability to this extent and published the report for the future planning and implementation of its PEAP. Hopefully, these report findings will facilitate the mainstreaming of persons with disabilities in all development activities.

My friend in Uganda told me that the significance of this report is the fact that the group of researchers included two persons with disabilities (one female and one male) who were recommended by NUDIPU, the Ugandan umbrella DPO. Another positive implication, he told me, is the fact that "Gender, Family Life and Culture" is an independent chapter in the report in the male-dominant society. They are indeed very important achievements.

Having read the report, I think that the report remains realistically critical to the situation of persons with disabilities, even though this is a government report. I think this is an important fact that such an open criticism is tolerated and welcomed. Another point is that its coverate of variety of impairments, not only physical, hearing and visual impairments, but also other "new ones". The report is full of life stories of persons with disabilities from 16 studied sites all over the country, which highlight and support the arguments. They are very convincing!

Some negative observation is made on the language use such as disability as tragedy and deaf persons as "dumb". Also there were too many typos, which are regretted. I would have also liked to see a concluding chapter with policy implications based on all the findings, though an independent chapter exists on the theme of policy.

In the executive summary, the report states, "the issues raised by persons with disability need to be taken into consideration so that communities all over Uganda become supportive environment and not hostile environments to persons with disabilities (p.x)." This report surely facilitates the realistic understanding of disability in Uganda.

If you want to get hold of this report, please write to me.


Edson and Jukka in New York

Today, Edson and Jukka are in New York for the seminar, "United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Global and Local Views" hosted by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Representatives from both Ugandan and Finnish Permanent Mission to the UN are invited together with the keynote speekers, Michael Stein and Michael Perlin. This is a fruit of our project! More precisely, it is Jukka who mobilised many essential things for this seminar to come true. We shall hear their travel report when they are back.