Born with a severe visual impairment, Charles Andama, 38, a resident of Luweero District, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Makerere University, has now joined a family of eight other blind adults housed at a home for the blind after a series of unsuccessful attempts to seek employment and possibly start a self-sustaining life.
Andama, like several of the other people with visual impairment, claims his failure to get employed despite the qualifications is because of the absence of clear guidelines that would possibly help people with disabilities (PWDs) exploit their individual talent as they are left to fight on their own in a society.
“When I tried out the teaching job in some schools, the experience was not good. I was not paid for my services. I was totally discouraged after trying different options to find a job.
“I was luckily sponsored by a Germany based organisation for my education up to university but all efforts to try and get a job have proved fruitless. I decided to try ordinary jobs but my visual impairment status has been a big disadvantage. I now live a begging life despite my ability to work.
“I look forward to getting some farming land to try out some agriculture. My parents were farmers and I can do some cultivation when I get a piece of land and some capital to invest,” Andama tells Saturday Monitor.
Born in Soroti District, eastern Uganda, Andama graduated in 2002 before relocating to Luweero where he tried out the teaching skills but fell out with his employers who could not facilitate his survival though they needed his services. For more than 15 years Andama’s efforts to try and get employed have not yielded fruit.
“My plight may not be believed by many people who often tell me to keep moving from place to place looking for a job but like other PWDs. I cannot move for a long distance without a guide yet I do not have the money to use for transport. This is the very reason I have decided to appeal for help from well-wishers,”Andama adds.
Ms Rosemary Kalibakya is the chairperson of Kikyusa Development Association of the Blind, an association where Andama is a member.
She told Sunday Monitor that Andama is the secretary of the association. Ms Kalibakya says Andama records minutes during meetings and helps to bridge the language barrier when the group gets visitors who are only fluent in the English language.
“We are housed together with Andama at a home that was built with the help of well-wishers who donated the land and the Germany based NGO that build the house,” Ms Kalibakya says.
While Andama has a great talent as the secretary of the association, they don’t have enough money to give to all its members.
“We are sometimes forced to move out and do casual work. Our frustration is that people who have a visual impairment complication are not trusted by the public. Andama can do some farming work to earn some little income but very few people would allow a blind person to do work in a garden. This is a big challenge that does not only affect Mr Andama but the entire group,’’ she adds.
Donation to association
Monica Nantume, Assistant project officer at the National Association of Women Organisations in Uganda (NAWOU), praised Andama as one of the key pillars at Kikyusa Development Association of the Blind. She says they interacted with members of the association and donated sweater knitting machines.
“The plight of Andama is very touching and I too call upon all kind hearted people who can come to his rescue to make an intervention. We recently donated the machines but the group explained that the Covid-19 lockdown has made it hard to have the sweaters get to the schools that were shut down,” she said.
Joseph Muwonge, gender officer at Luweero District, is optimistic Kikyusa Development Association of the Blind like many other disadvantaged groups registered with Luweero District Local Government will benefit from the different projects that target PWDs to boost startup income generating projects.
“I believe Andama will be a beneficiary in one of the disadvantaged groups. We shall try to make a follow up to get more information about him. His situation is shared by many people with the visual impairment complication in Luweero District,” Muwonge says.