Door:
Martha Nalukenge

17 maart 2022

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It will take a concerted effort from the global village to completely eradicate discrimination against people living with disabilities. It is time to look beyond their disability and focus more on their skills and capabilities. In Aydel Uganda, a group of deaf individuals came together and resolved to start a car wash business that is quickly becoming the talk of town.

As you make your way along the streets of Lira, you will not fail to notice a conspicuous sign that reads ‘Deaf Youth Washing Bay’ plastered on one of the posts. This piqued my interest and I was very curious to find out how the Lira community was promoting disability inclusion.

Ivan Ogwal

On arrival at the washing bay I met Mr. Hamza Oteng, the sign language interpreter and a 20 year old Ogwal Ivan who was washing a motorcycle (bodaboda). Ivan is hard of hearing, something which caused him to drop out of school because it made him feel like an outsider. But that doesn’t mean that he is illiterate, despite the fact that he dropped out at primary four, he is able to read and write, aside from the fact that he is very proficient in counting money.

Motivation and Mobilization

The inspiration behind starting up the car wash was a love for building employee confidence, disability inclusion and to create a strong movement where PWDs are judged by their abilities and work. People with disabilities usually miss out on job opportunities because the society presupposes that they are not capable of delivering on the task given perfectly. This pushed the Aydel populace to create jobs for deaf youth in the area and to ensure that no deaf person is left behind. This has helped them to easily access and share developmental ideas.

The chairperson of the group, Mr. Olwa Osma, heard some information about the Youth Livelihood Program (YLP), which prompted him to start looking for deaf youth in the neighborhood. He moved from door to door impressing upon them to come together and form a group that skills men with disability to fight poverty. Luckily most of them bought the idea; they were ten in number.

The Benefits

The advantage of working as a group is that it creates a strong output since opportunities are given equally to all group members. The question that always comes up from the community is how the group benefits from the project and the impact to their individual lives. Well, the members hope to start small businesses alongside their car wash project. Every individual is expected to save a portion of their income every Saturday. The savings are kept as capital that will be used to start up individual workshops/businesses to improve their standards of living in the community.

Hamza Oteng

You may be wondering, how do the clients normally react when they realize that their attendants are disabled? It’s normal human nature to judge something that is different and unique. However, the people who use the washing bay get pleasantly surprised when they find out that their deaf attendants are very good at lip reading. This enables them to understand their clients very well and to be in a better position to fulfil their needs. Clients are always advised to be patient with them for the best outcome possible. Communication being the center piece of any business, the youth use local sign language and exchange writings as a way of communicating. This has helped them to learn how to interact with their clients.

We should all borrow a leaf from the Aydel community and create disability inclusive job opportunities. The ball is now firmly in our court, the time for empty rhetoric has passed, it is time to act.

 

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