Hisayo delivered findings back to the Ugandan disability movement

This Ugandan disability research project was concluded in the end of September. From my part, it was concluded when findings were delivered back to the Ugandan disability movement in October during my last visit to Uganda. I had three main activities to deliver the findings. 

Firstly, I visited the three deaf women in villages whom I interviewed during my visit in 2008. Popular version of the book was produced so that those who are illiterate also receive findings and information in the colour-printed pictures. Obviously, pictures also have shortcomings and cannot reach, for instance, those with visual impairments. However, as I focused on deaf women in my research, I decided this way of delivering messages. I visited their homes one by one, and gave both popular version and a copy of my book to these three deaf women. I was very happy to see them again, while they also welcomed me with big smile. One of their family members said, “I didn’t know that a mzungu (white) could love us so much.” I felt complicated by this statement, because of the perception generally attached to white people who only use them and leave them. This is something to think about for my future work, definitely.

Secondly, I held a book launch at NUDIPU, the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda, the umbrella organisation of persons with disabilities. I invited DPOs and informed them beforehand that I was not paying any sitting or transportation allowance as many development agencies do for holding a meeting. Nevertheless, some 25 people showed up to pick up copies of my book. This was encouraging under the circumstance where people are used to receiving money for any meeting.

Thirdly, I also taught human rights Master students on disabilities and human rights at Makerere University for one whole week; 5-8 pm everyday. Obviously, the teachings based much on the findings of my latest book. But I am particularly happy for the three guest lecturers who came to deliver their strong messages to the future leaders of the country: one woman with a physical disability who was one of my research assistants, one deaf woman who is the executive director of Deaf women’s organisation, and one man with a physical disability who is the newly elected Committee member of the Convention. They were eloquent and powerful. I assume that the students would never forget these personal experiences of communicating with such powerful disability activists from their own country, even when they forget about my lectures!

My research on disabilities, human rights and international cooperation continues. I am now employed as research and development manager at Abilis Foundation in Finland and also work as the research assistant to the United Nations Special Rapportuer on Disability, Shuaib Chalklen. My experiences with Ugandan disability stakeholders will continue to help me to modestly act towards equality from my own part as a researcher.