Alias Women Our Roots brings you the full story of Angella. A woman with disability living in Arua in Uganda who is defying odds of Gender Based violence and disability. She has become a strong voice in her community mobilizing women with disability to change their status quo. We call upon you to support these resilient women achieve their vision.
“When I got married I was a working woman in the city who worked and built a house for my husband and we had a happy marriage for about 9 years. He later on stopped supporting me and the children and this is when I started suffering as a disabled woman. I started digging with one hand just to survive. He abandoned me and the children so I lived with his parents who later began being uncomfortable about my presence in the home. When he learnt I was still living in the home, he sent me money and told me to pack my property and return to my parents and children since he had got another woman who had given him a boy since I had only 3 girls. My husband denied my 2 children (2nd and 3rd) claiming he is not the father. I decided to use this money for food for the children with the hope that this marriage would still work out. He lived out of the country on duty.
In 2020, I went for the funeral of my relative in my home which was almost 700 miles away, he called me and instructed me only return to Arua accompanied by my father. After one year in my father’s house, I decided to travel back to Arua back to my husband’s home. Upon arrival he told me to send for my father to come so that he hands me back to my father. He even offered to refund the pride price he had paid for my marriage. This meeting ended so rowdy where my in-laws chased us away with clubs and stones hauling all insults to me. They called me a prostitute, one-handed, useless.
I had heard about the police child protection unit and so I went to report my case for the sake of my children. When my husband was summoned to police for mediation, he was so aggressive and told the police, “If you want her as your wife, you can have her. As for me I cannot have a prostitute”. The police were equally not helpful and I was told to go back home. In desperation I went to my Local council chairman of my community/village and when my husband and family was summoned, they declined to appear. So I endured and went back to his home.
On the following day, my husband came back home and found me at home. He was very angry and threw out my belongings with the help of his family. When the pressure became too much, I had to leave my husband’s home together with my 3 children at 4.00 pm. I had no money to start a new life (food and house rent). I asked a neighbor to give me and the kids accommodation for one night as I tried to sort out myself. In 2 weeks I was exhausted moving from home to home looking for in the neighborhood searching for odd jobs I could do to get some food for the kids.
COVID-19 did not make my situation any better but worse. I had to begin a new life. I picked up my pieces and I thought about what other women with disability are going through. I approached the nearest woman with disability and shared the idea of forming a revolving fund savings group I would identified with as the women disabled where we share our challenges, find solutions, working together. In one week I mobilized 5 women (4 physical disability and 1 blind) with disability who identified with this vision.
We narrowed down to beginning a revolving weekly saving scheme as a group. In the first month we had invested 20,000= Uganda shillings ($5 USD); Driwala Women with Disability saving group was thus created in 2020. As the leader of the savings group our impressive story has attracted more women with disability. By August 2020 we had investment savings of 620,000 Uganda shillings ($177 USD). To date we have a membership of 12 women with disability, with a savings of 2,00,000= Uganda shillings ($571 USD); we are determined women who want to change our status quo. We are each doing small businesses such as selling roadside kiosk of vegetables, pancakes, basic household items like sugar, soap, oil etc.
We are currently working to be able to raise some funds to take our children through school, I want to own my house and expand this group’s investment capital; and to tell my story and reach out to other women with disability in Pajulu sub county. I want to continue encouraging women with disability to step up their expectations and challenge the norms which believe that women with disability are dependent and can’t do anything in this world. It’s my humble appeal for well-wishers to support Driwala Women with Disability raise our investment capital”.