Most times, one can never truly know the measure of impact something has until they test or go through the experience. Thousands of people are affected by Spinal cord injuries and this is one of the most catastrophic turns of events one can experience. It entirely changes one’s life and they have to adapt to a whole new life system.
As much as they are given medical care, people with spinal cord injuries need to be empowered to get stronger and this requires people who truly understand how to handle them. This is where their recovery journeys begin.
Here is my story.
“14 years ago, I was involved in a road traffic accident from where I sustained a spinal cord injury, that left me wheelchair-bound. By the time this happened, I was 23 years old and held the position of Team leader of Passenger services at Entebbe International Airport. I was also in my third year pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce(External program) in Finance option. My world changed after getting this accident, and despite the countless attempts/commitment to physiotherapy with the desperate hope to regain my body function. As result, I couldn’t even complete my academic studies.
In 2018 I applied for reinstatement and the Makerere University Kampala Board reviewed my application and resolved to have me reinstated to complete the fourth year despite my Disability. This was also after several rejections from various Universities in my attempt to pursue a Law Degree, the reason for rejection was my current disability state which made them conclude that i could not manage because I was unable to write by myself and ascend the stairs to the lecture rooms)
I cannot begin to mention the countless challenges, the inaccessible environments, inaccessible information, unequal access to opportunities, stereotypes, and the insurmountable exclusion Persons with Disability continue to face in Uganda as am sure the world and yet do so without a voice that is critical enough to address the growing challenges of the day (without fear or favor) from a practical solutions perspective.
Luckily enough, over the last ten years with intentional exposure, I have been involved in tireless Persons with Disability Rights Activism with the view to promote, protect, preserve and recognize the same. For Example, I have played a critical role in founding two Disability People’s Organizations (DPO) i.e Spinal Injuries Support Society and The Coalition for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Activism Uganda to address the acute challenges.
The lack of Mobility equipment like wheelchairs, crutches, etc continues to be one of the biggest challenges hindering the full Reintegration and participation in community service for persons with disabilities.
Furthermore, it is increasingly becoming important to pursue meaningful Disability inclusion through business and entrepreneurship. To this effect, my colleagues and I founded Embellish Consults Limited which is a Marketing company that does Disability inclusion advisory consultancy services, Inclusive tourism, communication consultancy, product development for financial institutions, media, etc
Are you a person with a disability running a Business? start-up or intend to begin one?
Let’s empower you to grow and thrive!
In the next episode, I will be sharing my unending passion for the use of Disability inclusive political processes as a means to influence matters of policy and legislation pursuant to an inclusive and accessible future for all.
ABOUT SPINE INJURIES SUPPORT SOCIETY.
We are the Spinal Injuries Support Society (SISS – Uganda), a non-political, non-religious, and Community based organization (CBO- Reg. number WCBO /20/4464) that passionately seeks to identify, bring together, and offer a comprehensive rehabilitative approach to people with spinal cord injuries/illnesses, their families and carers.
Spinal cord injury victims face untold challenges in their pursuit of survival and integration into society. Aware that the transition from an able-bodied person to a wheelchair-bound or bedridden person is a harrowing and terrifying experience, we are cognizant that most spinal cord injured people in Uganda die within the first 1 year after the injury due to a lack of specialized facilities for treatment, misinformation, insufficient and ill-trained health workers, stress, secondary infections, and stigma.
Since its inception, we are happy to have educated several spinal injury survivors in our peer education programs through the home, hospital visits, and peer group meetings. We have identified that the biggest challenge facing people living with spinal cord injuries is mobility impairment which is worsened by the lack of affordable wheelchairs to support their movement and reintegration into society.”
Let’s stand together to empower people with spinal cord injuries and work towards the creation of a truly inclusive and accessible future. We’re calling upon all partnerships that will support the provision of assistive technologies and devices like
_Wheelchairs to Spinal cord injured sure survivors to enhance their reintegration into society (Work, entrepreneurship, school, governance, leisure, etc)
_ To establish a credible one-stop center that will provide comprehensive Rehabilitation programs for Spinal cord injury survivors in physical, economic, and psycho_social therapy
Written By Denis Ouma