What you need to know:
Hajara Nabuuma was recognised for her outstanding skills in hair dressing and was offered a bursary to study a certificate in cosmetology at Ice Kenny School of Beauty, in Kampala. She is making money in hairstyling and make-up by offering mobile services.
When Hajara Nabuuma made three months, her mother realised she could not respond to sounds like her agemates did.
But she was born a healthy baby, her mother did not worry that her baby could have any physical challenge, until her grandfather monitored her closely and noted that she would take long to exchange gestures, whenever they called her name.
“At Mulago National Referral Hospital, doctors did several tastes, but did not diagnose any sickness. I was told that her ears had no problem,” Nampiima recalls.
Back at home, Nabuuma’s mother says her neighbours cautioned her that since her child was not able to hear, she would also not be able to speak verbally, even after she became an adult.
Nampiima, Nabuuma’s mother recounts that she suffered severe malaria at one week after birth, which she suspects could have caused the loss of hearing.
At three years, she took her daughter to a school in their neighbourhood in Kawempe, a Kampala surburb, where she learnt that there was a special school for the deaf.
At Mulago School for the Deaf, Nabuuma was introduced to a community of children with disabilities and interpreters, where she learnt sign language and finished primary school.
Nampiima says her daughter did not face major challenges at the school because she had understanding teachers and communication was easy among children, who had hearing impairments.
“It was not easy for us to pay for her school fees after her father lost his job,” Nampiima shares.Learning a skill
With no hope of taking her child to a secondary school, Nampiima was advised by Nabuuma’s former teacher to enroll her for vocational training. She joined Youth Encouragement Services (YES) Uganda, where she learnt hair dressing for a year.
After the training, Nabuuma worked with one of her trainers, where she mastered various hair styles, which have earned her trust from customers.
“She learnt things very fast according to her trainers. And this is why I interested her in learning how to plait weaves and other hairstyles,” Nampiima explains.
While Nabuuma found passion in hairstyling, she did not earn enough money to cater for her transport and accommodation.
She did not give up
With contacts from her workplace, Nabuuma decided to work from home in Matugga, Wakiso District.
She does not own a salon, yet but whenever she gets an order from a potential client, her skill takes her wherever is convenient for a client.
She shares that it is hard for her to win people’s trust but whenever she gets a client, she does her best and these referrals have kept her going. She is specialising in bridal hairstyling and make-up.
“When new customers realise that I can neither hear nor speak, they doubt my skills, but they are always amazed when I deliver. Some fear approaching me because of language barrier and other misconceptions,” Nabuuma mentions.
Nabuuma’s mother says raising a child with a hearing impairment requires parents who can rise about all stereotypes and negativity.
This is because communities attach many myths and beliefs to children born with the impairments. “Some believe these children are cursed and may be a danger to those without disabilities,” she adds.
Nampiima shares that during a radio show at 90.4 Dembe FM in February this year, youth were given an opportunity to a three-day training that would last a month. Nabuuma chose to participate in it.
During the training, Nabuuma was recognised for her outstanding skills in hair dressing and was offered a bursary to study a certificate in cosmetology at Ice Kenny School of Beauty, in Kampala from April to July, 2023.
With experience from Ice Kenny School of Beauty, Nabuuma went to Nairobi in Kenya, where she trained for one month in bridal hairstyling and make-up before her graduation that happened on December 3.
Nabuuma looks forward to establishing her own salon, where she can train youth in cosmetology.
“My customers find me at home. We agree on a specific hairstyle, which I best understand with the help of photos on a phone. I organise with other customers and we agree on where to meet,” Nabuuma shares.
Managing the condition
Nampiima says even when children with hearing impairments are lively, they are not received by the community, wholly.
She adds that most women confine their children in their homes, which leads to loss of talents in children with disabilities: “Parents ought to be intentional in providing for children with disabilities, so they can achieve their full potential,”
Nabuuma through her interpretor, says she has learnt basic sign language that enables her to communicate with with people at home.
“For things that are complex, she normally communicates through writing,” Nampiima shares.
She reveals that children with hearing impairements need utmost care. They know it when they are stigmatised: “For example, when talking to Nabuuma she needs full attention, without which she gets frustrated.”