When I joined Senior Five in 2009, I was overjoyed. It may not seem like much but for me it was a milestone. I was just two years shy of arriving at my dream of joining university.
I wanted to hold a professional job and this was one way of guaranteeing it. But my whole world came tumbling down in third term.
How it all began
It was around September 2009, on my way back home from school, to pick that term’s fees balance.
Around midday I boarded a taxi from Bulenga, on Mityana Road, heading to Old Taxi Park. My initial plan was to reach taxi park and continue to Nansana in Wakiso district where I lived with my mother.
Unfortunately, the taxi, in which I was travelling rammed into a Fuso lorry near Nateete roundabout. My last recollections of that incident are wails from people in the same taxi asking for help.
When I regained consciousness, I was lying in a hospital bed. I was told I had been in a comma for two days. Both my legs were hanging in the air. Most of my body was covered in wounds.
After two weeks in hospital, I was discharged. I had to use crutches to ease my mobility. It was hard to adjust to this new me but there was little I could do to change the situation.
I used these for three months and with the help of physiotherapy I was able to walk again but with a limp.
I returned to school and caught with my colleagues in the first tem of Senior Six.
Ray of hope
Despite the bruises on my hands and legs and the psychological torture that the accident had left me with, I was ready to start a new life.
Amidst all these changes, I lost my mother and was now being looked after by a cousin.
By God’s grace I finished high school and was set to join university. I had not necessarily passed well, but I had been admitted to Makerere University as a disabled student.
This, I thought was a blessing in disguise. I studied and it was in third year that I faced what I consider as my worst tragedy.
I was raped, impregnated and abandoned by an unknown man. I do not know who he is and he certainly has never claimed his baby.
It was on a Friday evening and I had attended a send-off party for Rose, one of my friends at her parents’ home in Luzira, a Kampala suburb. She was leaving for the United Kingdom.
I did not know anyone else at the party except Rose. As such, I sat at the high table with Rose along with two other men.
It was not a wild party and everything seemed fine. I only left my drink unattended for five minutes and that is when everything changed. I had stepped out to take a call from my cousin.
When I took my seat I continued to sip my drinks and within no time I was dizzy. That is the last thing I remember from that night.
The following day I woke up in Rose’s room. I had a bad headache and still with dizzy spells. I wondered what I was doing in her bed.
Rose claims she found me unconscious lying in their compound. I am not a heavy drinker, so there is no way I could drink to a stupor, I figured my drink had been laced.
I let it at that and moved on with my life. It is two months later when I got a rude awakening.
I started getting funny illnesses. All the tests I would carry out would turn out negative. It was only when a doctor carried out a pregnancy test that he confirmed I was pregnant.
To say that I was shocked is the least. I was not in any relationship, in all my recollections I had not been intimate with anyone, so how could this be?
I had more questions than answers and I figured it was Rose who could give me a heads up on what had befallen me. None of my relatives could believe my story no matter how hard I tried to explain myself.
I lost almost everything. I could no longer be accepted in the university hall of residence because I was pregnant, and yet my cousin had chased me from home as well.
I was alone, frightened, pregnant and with no where to run to. I gave birth to a baby boy but up to now my relatives want nothing to do with me. They look at me as a burden.
How I wish someone could help me piece up the night of that party.
The Constitution of Uganda has prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities since 1995, but since 2005 the government has increased its support of the rights of the disabled, especially for giving them equal employment opportunities.
The Persons with Disabilities Act of 2006 targeted discrimination against people with disabilities, and encouraged private employers with ten or more persons with disabilities with a 15 per cent tax reduction. This was followed by the 2006 Equal Opportunity Act and the Employment Act which also prohibited discrimination based on disability in employment.
The most recent government effort was the Universal Primary Education Act of 2008. It helps any family to send four children to school by giving them free primary education, including disabled children.
As for the future, there is the Uganda Vision 2040, which recognizes the needs of the 7 per cent of the population that live with disabilities (of which 48 per cent have permanent disability), and the Poverty Eradication Action Program that also identifies the needs of people with disabilities.
People with disabilities experience domestic or sexual violence at a higher rate than people without disabilities. Here are some of the grim statistics:
Centers for Disease Control has found that women with a disability are significantly more likely than women without a disability to experience domestic violence in their lifetime, 37.3 per cent vs. 20.6 per cent. Women with a disability are much more likely to have a history of unwanted sex with an intimate partner, 19.7 per cent vs. 8.2 per cent.
80 per cent of women and 30 per cent of men with intellectual disabilities have been sexually assaulted. 50 per cent of those women have been assaulted more than ten times.
Only 3 per cent of sexual abuse cases involving people with developmental disabilities are ever reported.