Youth-led community building in Lira, Uganda

What is going on?

     Life is tough in this war-ravaged area. For our partners living with disabilities, life can be a nightmare. In 2010, we started becoming the hands of care to our most vulnerable friends.

     More than 15,000 people in the Lira area live with with disabilities: hearing, sight, physical problems and more. Disabled children are five times more likely to be victims of violence, discrimination and the psycho-social consequences of the long term conflict in Northern Uganda. 98% of persons with disabilities  lack formal education. If those with disabilities graduate, they acquire positions that are often low grade and low paying.

       Despite the introduction of Universal Primary Education (UPE) children with disabilities are frequently not enrolled in schools as they are not considered worthy of attaining formal education. Those who enroll are usually teased and bullied by their peers, and this discourages them from attending school more often. This is a significant factor in low school enrollment and retention of children with disabilities (National Council of Children 1994).

The UPE continues to target children with disabilities, but the government has not set up the infrastructure in schools necessary for their integration. The physical structure includes walkways toilets, accessible corridors and special educational equipment such as braille machines and hearing aids. The sizes of integrated classes are too large, and teachers are not able to attend the unique learning needs of children with disabilities more over few teachers have the knowledge and skills to educate these children. These concerns have contributed to the high school drop out of children with disabilities.

           Further, the Uganda education system offers an inappropriate curriculum for children with disabilities. The curriculum at primary level has become increasingly irrelevant to the skills that these children need in their day to day lives outside school. The emphasis is on academic subjects, rather than balancing theory with the teaching of independent living skills. Most children with disabilities do not go beyond primary level. Therefore the education they receive in primary is critical as itís the foundation of their livelihood.

Finally, women suffer more. Traditionally the boys are more valued whether they are disabled or not.  Disabled girls have a double disadvantage due to these negative attitudes and issues with their accessibility differ from those of their male counter parts. Girls with disabilities may experience sexual harassments and rejection at school and home. They may also be expected to perform certain gender roles despite their disability.

Helpful facts:
One of our partner's stories:
 

Sheila nine years old and a very bright girl. Her arm and leg don't work well, and she has hearing and speaking impediments.

 

Sheila lost her mother to HIV/AIDs, but her father is alive - a hard working, but very poor farmer.

 

Sheila had been ostracized at school and in her society for her disabilities, causing causing trauma and other problems for her and her father.

 

And yet this hasn't stopped Sheila from learning. She loves to study and performs well in class when given the opportunity.

 

The CCYA needs help to find other devoted, bright, and caring young people like Sheila whose families need community care. In doing so, we help our community build an imagination for life outside of war and despair.  Please consider helping us by funding the identification and school funding for such worthy kids.

 
 
 

 
 

Disabilities

In Uganda, blind is very bad, very bad, said a child to Mennonite Central Committee workers. In Lira, 98% of children with disabilities lack formal education or the most remedial services. This cannot stand. We are seeking these kids out to partner with them.