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By Joseph Malinga

Finding a job placement can really mean to be very difficult for someone in a poor country such as Uganda. It is even harder if one lacks employable skills. Actually, the case scenario becomes even more complicated for people with disabilities especially for youth with disabilities─ most of whom have limited access to the skills the job market requires, bit for formal or informal employment. 

This case scenario previously explained, Moses Alinaitwe’s way of life. As youth with disability, Alinaitew dropped out of school in primary seven, not because of his disability but because no one offered to further his education, let alone was his family able to enable his other siblings attain reasonable education.

 In a very disabling circumstance such as this, it is quite normal for Alinaitwe to write off his future. All he could do was to live for the next day. In 2014, however, his fate received a slight boost ─that he has now turned into a very ambitious future─when Connecting the Dots Project being implemented by Sightsavers in collaboration with NUDIPU, and UNAB with support from European Union, identified him. 

Alinaitwe was then asked to select skills of his choice that he believes could turn around his destiny. Being a youth with physical disability, his wish was always to acquire skills in electronics because he often admired to repair mobile phones, and other electronic gadgets, but his level of education could not favour his wish so he opted for leather skills.

“I wanted to offer a course relating with electronics because that has always been my wish all through my life,” the 28, year- old, Alinaitwe said. “Unfortunately, I was advised to change because my education level was limited so I had to switch to leather work,” he adds.

 

Although leather work was not his original inspiration, Alinaitwe says he found the course more interesting and enriching after being enrolled at Masindi Centre for the handicapped. Apart from attaining the leather skills, he also received skills in entrepreneurship probably explaining why he owns a business at Kinubi trading centre, MParo division, Hoima Municipality.

“After the training I was given a sewing machine, with other toolkits. I decided to rent a place here where I now operate. I pay shs 10,000 per month for the space in front of someone’s tailoring shop. My landlord sews clothes while for me, I sew leather cushions for motor cycles and vehicles.

The beginning was not very easy because I first faced stiff competitions from the person I found here. He didn’t want me to work here but I persisted and he ended up shifting and left me here,” Alinaitwe said with a bold smile. From his expression, he seems to love his job. This could probably explain why he is enduring a sunny afternoon with hot breeze to serve his clients.

For Alinaitwe, a person who never thought he would ever fend for himself, the knowledge he acquired has totally changed his life. “I can take care of myself now. I used to be home doing nothing because I thought I can do nothing about my situation. I didn’t know that I had the potential just as society had judged me. Now things are totally upside-down. Besides fending for myself and I do contribute fees for my young siblings and other basic needs at home.  Isn’t that wonderful?” Alinaitwe boasts about his success.  

His dream now is to grow his business. He wants to start up a leather workshop and shop dealing in school uniforms, spare parts for sewing machines and leather materials. Currently he buys the materials within Hoima at higher price. This to him, is affecting his profit margin. He also intends to buy a specialised machine for leather work because the current one cannot match the task.

The desire to grow his business however, is in line with the support he receives from his customers. “We like him because he knows his work. I don’t have any reason for abandoning him yet,” Julius Kyamanywa, one of Alinaitwe’s customers, said of him.  For every repair, Alinaitwe charges between shs 15,000-20,000 per client. His average monthly earnings range from shs 100, 000-300,000. 


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