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 By Joseph Malinga He is visually impaired yet able to dig just like or even better than those of us with sight. Abdu Majidu Kirunda, 42, a resident of wakitaka village, mafumbira Sub County, is busy weeding a maize garden at his compound. I am drawn in by his preciseness as he goes about his job.

He knows how well to differentiate between a plant and a weed. ”how do you do these things?” I ask with curiosity.  “I am trained,” he says. Not many visually impaired people can do what Kirunda is able to do.  As a young man, he was exposed to a number of skills including the life skills.

Like many PWDs coming from humble families, Kirunda is not much learnt. All he has is a certificate in craft. After losing his sight at the age of 12, he stayed home for many years without accessing education. One day, a Samaritan picked him up and took him to Iganga School for the Blind for training in craft. It is this knowledge that has kept him moving.

Unlike other PWDs, Kirunda is an enterprising man though many a times his efforts are frustrated by his community members. He is not just a farmer a lone, but he is also strives to engage in other small scale enterprises, unfortunately each time he realises some income community members steal from him.

“NUDIPU trained me in entrepreneurship skills. It is the skills I used to access a loan from Jinja District Association of the Blind (JIDAB). I used the money to start a shop. The business was doing well unfortunately, the person I had employed to run the shop was not doing well so I decided to close the shop. I continued with my craft work. Later I started selling sugarcanes. I left that business and started selling charcoal. I was really doing well but some people came home and robbed me of shs 500, 000,” he said.

He has since resorted to entirely farming. He hires gardens where he grows various crops. “I used to fear to dig but the situation has taught me to work. I even dig in other peoples’ gardens to earn some income,” he said,

Kirunda has learnt his lessons so he does not despise any job. For the desire to improve his condition, Kirunda now sells grass to whoever owns cattle in the village. Every morning he moves to the bushes to cut grass and supply for an income. It is a lucrative business he says.

Like the previous efforts, he again suffered a setback when community members went to his home and robbed him of eight of his goats he bought using the money he earned from selling grass. These incidents rather than discourage him, have instead encouraged him to work hard. By the time we visited him he had already bought more goats out of his business of selling grass. He has also bought iron sheets and plans to put up a fair structure for his family.

Kirunda’s perseverance has however endeared him to the community to an extent that he is now regarded as a counsellor. After being trained by NUDIPU as a peer educator Kirunda is seen by many in his community as a man of noble character worth to listen to. This is helping him play his role as a peer educator.

 “I received training in HIV/AIDs issues. With the knowledge I acquired I am able to educate my community members including my family. In fact the skills were handy because as soon as I received the training one of my dependants was discovered to be having Tuberculosis. So I was able to counsel my family members and sensitised them on how to handle such people,” he said. 

Kirunda adds, initially issues of HIV and TB were not my business but after the training I am now very cautious and try to enlighten community members especially reminding them that the scourge is still here to stay. “The community now looks at me as a counsellor for all”, he says in jovial mood.


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