Moving here and there, with no hope, no future. But now, I say I have a future. I’m on the right track. I see where I’m going.
What helped me was joining Sightsavers’ Connecting the Dots training and employment project – I discovered that I had the potential to be a good leader. I’m now a counsellor for people with disabilities in my sub-county. I campaigned for this position in 2016 and in the same year, I was nominated as the national delegate for people with disabilities to go and meet the President in Kololo.
Through the employment project, I learned that I have that capability and leadership. People do value that – they now see me as a hardworking person, a trustworthy guy. When you believe in yourself, people give you respect.
It’s good to know your rights as a person with a disability. But a lot of people with disabilities grow up not knowing that they have the same right to things like education and employment as everyone else, and there’s a lot of discrimination. We need to change this – that’s why I’m supporting Sightsavers’ Equal World petition.
The petition asks the UN to uphold disability rights. At a national level in several countries, it also asks for various laws and policies to be put in place to protect these rights. In Uganda, for example, we’re calling on the government to implement the national disability planning guidelines.
Progress is happening already – now, when our government holds meetings, they include a person with a disability as a first priority. Through this campaign of inclusiveness, in all public buildings and government buildings there is now an accessible ramp. In government programmes, there must be access for people with disabilities. But we have further to go.
The negative attitude is still there in Uganda, but we just need to keep raising awareness. It depends on leadership – we have to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. My message to other people with disabilities is: We Can.
Join me in calling for the rights of people with disabilities to be upheld by signing the Equal World petition.
Our Equal World campaign fights for the rights of people with disabilities.More on the campaign
Atugonza is a youth leader and disability activist in Masindi, Uganda. He gained IT skills as a participant of Sightsavers’ Connecting the Dots training and employment programme, and subsequently joined the programme team as an intern.
Sightsavers’ Edwin Maleko shares the impact of an inclusive eye health programme on communities and eye care services in Singida and Morogoro.
Sightsavers’ Laurène Leclercq shares successes from an award-winning project in Cameroon and Senegal that’s supporting people with disabilities to participate in all aspects of political life.
On International Women’s Day, on 8 March, we’re calling for health care to be accessible and inclusive for women and girls.