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By Joseph Malinga 

“I want to show this community that I am no longer the person they used to undermine. They used to despise me a lot calling me all sorts of names, with others even questing my potential. Now everyone here admires what I am doing. Some of them have even expressed interest to learn what I do…” Abswaina Kesimire, a youth living with cerebral palsy, says of her changed life.

Kesimire, is one of the 300 youth with disabilities who received sponsorship to attain vocational skills under the Connecting the Dots Project implemented by Sightsavers in partnerships with NUDIPU and UNAB. The project aimed at increasing the employability of the YWDs through equipping them with vocational skills.

Like her colleagues, Kesimire was identified from Mbogwe cell in Hoima Municipality without very productive skills to earn her income. Given her disability, Kesimire enrolled for knitting at Nile Vocational Institute, Hoima. With skills acquired, she now boasts as the only knitting expert in her community.

Apart from receiving the scholarship, Kesimire also received a knitting machine that she has since aptly utilised to change her life. “The project gave me skills plus a knitting machine. I now knit sweaters. At first I wanted to learn tailoring but when I got to school I admired a knitting machine and I changed my mind. Good enough the school also advised that I would not be able to use tailoring machine because my body shakes,” Kesimire said.

One thing that makes Kesimire happy is the fact that she now has a job and can afford to meet her basic needs unlike before when she would have to wait for her grandmother to provide. She has since lived with her grandmother, Hajjat Hamida Abadi, after her parents abandoned her because of her disability.

Now feeling empowered, relevant, and productive, Kesimire says she is just not a darling to her parents but also the community members because they now see her potential as a persons with disability. Kesimire meanwhile owes her success to her grandmother who has stood with her and has seen her through all the hurdles in life. 

In fact, the grandmother now closely works with her in knitting business. According to her, the grandmother moves from school to school looking for contracts to supply sweaters, the proceeds from which they are now constructing a permanent house.

The duo also make baskets and charcoal that the grandmother further helps in marketing.  A basin of briskets costs shs 10,000, a basket goes for shs 20,000, while sweaters range between 14,000-25,000 each depending on the size, and with this earnings, Kesimire is full of praises to Sightsavers.

“If it wasn’t for Sightsavers project, I think I would have been badly off. My friends could have continued despising me.  I would still be admiring most of the things. Everything is now possible because I can afford anything I want since I have a job,” she said.


© 2013 National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda, All right reserved