Sunday February 16 2014

Disability is not inability

Peninah Nakandi.

Peninah Nakandi. PHOTO BY EDGAR BATTE 

By Edgar. R. Batte

At her every step someone will take interest. This is because Peninah Nakandi is shorter than the average person. Sometimes people will make fun of her while other times someone will feel and show pity for her.

She says that she does not need sympathy from people. Nakandi says she can do what other more able-bodied people can do. “I am employed and I get a monthly earning,” she says, leaning back in her seat. “People call me a person with a disability but when you look at me, do you see any disabilities? I have deformity of the bones though it is not a disability as such, most people could call me a Congolese,” Nakandi says, with a smile.

She says she is happy to be able-bodied. “I do not console myself like the rest and I will not sit home and wait for hand-outs. I do not like people who console me. All I ask for employers is not to discriminate against people with disabilities but to allow them in because there is a lot they can do,” Nakandi further explains. She adds it is pointless not to give a job to someone who can ably do it on the basis that they have a deformity on their body. Nakandi is proud to have a loving man, Joseph Kimpi, a menial labourer.

“We met him on my way to Makerere University but I am sure he had seen me before, they constructed mission. He was a builder at the Missionaries of the Poor’ charity home,” Nakandi recalls.

She was a volunteer at the Missionaries of Poor and one day a man turns up and requests to talk to her. Surprised, she takes a break at work and goes out to see the person who had requested to see her.

It was a familiar face. “He smiled at me and I smiled back,” she recounts. Kimpi had gathered the guts to finally profess his love for Nakandi. “When I was told there was a man who ws waiting to see me they also told me that this ‘visitor’ said he knew me better than I knew myself so I wanted to know the person,” she recalls.

When she faced the man it seemed like a joke but the man had not turned up, under the midday sunshine, to make a joke. He was done struggling with emotions with the woman he loved and saw every day.

“We then went for a date and got to know each other. That was 2009. I liked his honesty and to this day I love him because he accepted me the way I’m,” Nakandi explains, smiling with satisfaction.

She has recently given birth to a baby girl. Nakandi and Kimpi are proud lovers and parents. “Our baby is called Priscilla Nambi,” she says. But carrying a child was not an easy nine months for her. “Carrying a child was something hard. In my seventh month of pregnancy I got pain and got fed up of the pregnancy. At the time we were not yet staying together. He was saying at his father’s place but I could call him for help because I was not working at that time,” she explains.

“I was staying with my brothers. That is around the time I left Missionaries of the Poor. I needed a paying job. I also needed more space. I moved into a single room which I was renting at Shs85, 000 per month,” Nakandi, a Rotarian, recalls. She is member of the Rotary Club of Mengo. Amidst all this Nakandi needed support and Kimpi could not tell her the truth.

“Even when he did not have money he could not say it. He was scared of the responsibility. I had a friend called Dr Alex Godinho who told me to go to Mulago. It was cheap and I gave birth there. My child weighed five kilogrammes. When I gave birth I started staying with my man,” she adds.

Being a mother is enjoyable . Nakandi says she is happy to look after her baby. She has learnt that she has to forego some hobbies like hanging out with friends.