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Blind girl overcomes social discrimination to graduate

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Aida Namukasa (L) and her young sister Nakizito at the former’s graduation party recently.

Aida Namukasa (L) and her young sister Nakizito at the former’s graduation party recently. MARTINS E SSEKWEYAMA 

By Martins E. Ssekweyama

Posted  Wednesday, June 18  2014 at  01:00

In Summary

Blinded at a tender age, Namukasa beat all odds and stigma that come with disability to complete her studies with a bachelors degree.

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Lwengo

Aida Namukasa, 28, is not an ordinary university graduate. She has been blind since she was one and half years. “I lost my sight due to measles which I contracted in my infancy,” she says.

Namukasa who graduated from Kyambogo University in February this year was rejected in all local schools at the age of four when her peers were starting school. It is after her parents took her to Mbarara Primary School which had a department for handicapped learners, particularly those with visual and hearing impairment that she got a chance to get an education.

“The school turned out to be very helpful to Namukasa. They developed her academic potential and she was introduced to Braille (A point system of writing in which patterns of raised dots represent letters and numerals) reading and writing as well as other skills. It turned out to be a grand opportunity for her to achieve her academic potential,” says her mother, Ms Rehema Nabisere.

Ms Namukasa is the second born out of seven children of Hajj Hussein Kizito and Rehema Nabisere, both commercial coffee farmers at Kisenyi Village in Lwengo District.
Ms Nabisere says their daughter made the family proud when she successfully went through her education. “Namukasa would challenge her siblings in academics, and it later turned out to be a matter of stiff competition amongst them,” she said.

Ms Nabisere says many members of their community discouraged them from taking Namukasa to school saying it was far away from home. “Some of them believed that she was also deaf and spoke their mind loudly as she listened. Often, we avoided public functions where we knew we would meet people talking that way,” she said.

In her Primary Leaving Examination (PLE), Ms Namukasa passed in Second Grade and joined St Francis Secondary School for the Blind in Madera, Soroti District from where she completed her O-level. She then went to Sir Apollo Kaggwa SS in Mukono District in 2008 for A-level.
After her Senior Six exams, she took a certificate course in cookery and computer in addition to the knitting and sewing.

Computers suitable for blind people are fixed with “Jaws speaking Software” that provides Braille output in addition to, or instead of, speech. It has a variety of versatile features and customisable options to fit anybody’s your individual needs and preferences.
On returning home, she started practicing her knitting and crafts skills and produced plenty of pieces like sweaters, scarves, table linens among others which she sold to get some money.

She later enrolled for a diploma in Adult and Community Education at Kyambogo University, before undertaking a degree in Community Based Rehabilitation – CBR Studies at same university that she completed in February this year.

Hajj Kizito, her father, said the entire family is proud of Namukasa. He confesses that he hardly thought a blind person could achieve anything in life.

“We feel like not letting Namukasa leave the home because she adds life to the home and we consult her on very many things and she guides us accordingly. We watch the English news together and she helps interpret for us. She also helps her young siblings and our grandchildren with homework among other things,” he says.

sbwire@ug.nationmedia.com