I recently meet a group of women with disability in a rural village in Uganda who were able to share their stories. Asamo (not real name) told me her story how she has been able to rise from ashes after her husband threw her and her 3 daughters out of her 12 years matrimonial home. Asamo told me that when COVID 19 pandemic struck in March 2020 and government-imposed mobility restrictions, she has not been able to even go to her farm. Already her husband had got a mistress and so had began neglecting her and children. Sometimes she could only manage to fend for just one meal in a day On one fateful day in April 2020, a family meeting was convened between Asamo’s husband’s family and her. They told her to pack her belongings and leave their son since he had found a better woman without disability. She said she cried, as they rained on her words of stigma, demeaning statement, how useless she is because she has a disability. This was a family matter and no community leader was even involved. She could not afford to go back to her village since it was 600 kilometers away. She was in a foreign land. The best she could do was to struggle to make a temporal shelter from mats and sacks. This is were she is residing to date.
I noted strength in her voice and asked her what gives her strengths and hope. Asamo told me a mind-blowing insight. She took it upon herself to seek support from her fellow disabled and vulnerable women in her community. She looked for 4 women with (4 physical disability and 1 blind) and suggested they begin a saving group. They embraced the idea and on their first month began saving with only 25,000 Uganda shillings and 25,000 Uganda shillings social security. As the leader of the savings group their amazing story has attracted more women with disability and to date, they are 15 women in their group. They have saved 620,000 Uganda shillings. They do weekly savings
This fund has helped members borrow with small interest and began or boosted their micro businesses. They are now able to be self-sustaining and not depend on others. They are able to live through the COVID 19 crisis. They feel productive and useful giving them hope for the future. Most of them are currently doing petty trade like roadside vegetable selling, mandazi, charcoal selling, retail kiosks.
Asamo is so enthusiastic about the future and want to get her group stronger by equipping them with practical skills on business, soap and Vaseline making, financial skills etc. She is believing that fellow women is a better position should be able to lift other women. Asamo is now an advocate for other women with disability in her community. “I was in a meeting today were a husband of a deaf woman sent her away and I advised her to go and report the case to police for record purposes”.
Her dream is to be able to educate her 3 daughters to challenge the world that disability is not inability. “Having only one arm does not make me less human” she says with a smile.
Lets support Asamo.