Sightsavers’ focus in Uganda is to strengthen local health systems, promote social inclusion and tackle neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). In 2016 we distributed 270,000 treatments for NTDs and supported almost 10,000 sight-saving operations.
Sightsavers, at the time known as the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind, started working in Uganda in 1954. Its first programmes aimed to control river blindness, a neglected tropical disease, and to provide rehabilitation for those whose sight couldn’t be saved.
In 1994, Sightsavers’ Uganda Country Office (UCO) opened in Kampala, and the following year it began working to help blind and visually impaired children participate fully in mainstream schools. Since 2010, our strategic focus has been on strengthening local health systems, promoting social inclusion and tackling neglected tropical diseases.
Uganda is also home to our award-winning Connecting the Dots project, which provided vocational training to young people with disabilities so they can find work and support themselves financially. The project has transformed attitudes to disability, and shows potential employers how hiring people with disabilities could benefit their business.
Former child soldier Simon Peter was blinded by a bullet at the age of 11. After years of intense pain, Sightsavers’ Connecting the Dots programme in Uganda helped him to train as a knitting teacher. The programme has enabled him to regain his independence and change attitudes about disability: he now has a full-time job teaching students at a vocational training institute, and can support his wife and 10-month-old son. Read Simon Peter’s story.