Alex Munyambabazi, the founder of Amputee Self Help Network Uganda, an organisation that helps rehabilitate and support people with missing limbs, sustained injuries on both his legs from a landmine blast that occurred during a field operation on June 29, 2005.
At the time, he had been deployed in the army to fight the rebels that had caused havoc in the northern part of Uganda. In order to save his life, his right leg was amputated while the left one was reconstructed during surgery.
Due to the lack of prothestics in Uganda, on Saturday, March 27, a group of about 30 people decided to walk from Kampala to Jinja Town to raise money for the cause. The charity walk, which was being organised for the first time, aimed to raise money (Prosthetics Accessibility Fund) for amputees.
The group consisted of different people including the Crazy Summiters (a group of friends who do mountain climbing and long walks from time to time), well-wishers and most notably, amputees who had lost their respective limbs under different circumstances.
They set off from Kampala at 6am although everyone reached Jinja at different time intervals. The distance between the two towns is about 70 kilometres.
About Shs3m was raised from the charity and it is interesting to note that some of the contributions came from well-wishers who did not participate in the walk. According to the organisers, people are continuing to give even after the event ended.
The amputees did not necessarily walk from Kampala to Jinja. Rather, a van was hired to transport them and upon arriving at Mabira forest, a rainforest area located between Lugazi and Jinja towns, some of the amputees opted to walk to cover the distance of the forest.
“The major reason for this walk was to generate funds for prosthetics relief so that any person with a missing limb can easily be assisted,” says Munyambabazi.
In addition, Munyambabazi, who was one of the event organisers, says part of the funds will cater for a rehabilitation centre that is fully equipped where prosthetics users can get required services comfortably.
Munyambabazi, 38, walked for about five kilometres on the Mabira stretch. Although he was only able to walk for a few kilometres, he says he is proud of himself because even walking the short distance was challenging.
“Walking for those five kilometres, in my kind of state, was not easy. I would have covered more kilometres but then my leg (with the prosthetics) began to hurt a lot and that is how I eventually aborted the rest of the journey,” he says, adding, “Regardless, I am proud of myself.”
Walking for fitness
Kenneth Asiimwe, the founder of the Crazy Summiters and one of the event organisers, says although the initial intention of the walk was for fitness reasons, in the end, they opted to attach a cause to it.
“We had wanted to walk purely for health reasons but then as a team, we reflected and thought it wise to attach a cause to it. We resolved that the intention would be to raise money for people with missing limbs to buy prosthetics after realising how they struggle to cope on a daily basis,” Asiimwe says.
Asiimwe, who also took part in the walk reached Jinja from Kampala at about 7.49pm after setting off at 6am. He shares his experience by highlighting that the last five kilometres of the walk were difficult since it was approaching nighttime and, therefore, had to be vigilant on the road.
Juliet Masika, says she participated in the walk because of the agenda as well as for health reasons, ideally to keep fit.
“As much as I was doing this to help raise money for people with missing limbs, I also wanted to do it for health reasons, another strategic way to lose weight,” Masika says.
Masika’s daughter, Hannah Masika, 10, also took part in the event. Surprisingly, she managed to walk from Kampala to Namutumba (a distance of about 81.8kms). Namutumba is a district located in Eastern Uganda.