Zahara, a deafblind child in Uganda
3 March 2014
Posted by Josephine Akiru
On 3 December 2013, seven-year-old Zahara joined the rest of the world to commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Zahara, is profoundly deaf and with very little sight. She is the youngest of three children and lives with her family in Komaboga, a small village near Kampala city in Uganda. Her father works as an artisan in a metal workshop in Kampala. The family lives on a daily earning of four dollars a day, which is hardly enough to meet their daily basic needs.
Zahara is a pupil of St. Mark VII school in Bwanda for the deaf and deafblind, which has a deafblind unit supported by Sense International Uganda.
At school, with the help of her teachers, Zahara is learning how to be independent. She has mastered sign language and, during holiday time, she teaches her siblings how to sign.
She has also learnt how to make beads and she's going to learn knitting and weaving. With the support of Sense International Uganda, she has been able to access medical treatment to maintain her residual sight.
Celebrations for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities took place in Kisoro District, located in South Western Uganda, which is approximately 290 miles away from Zahara's home.
It would be the first time that Zahara would take such a long journey away from home. Her mother Amina did not hesitate to let her attend the event, despite discouragement from neighbours and friends. She said 'I want my child to be like other children, so I will let her go'. Zahara is an outgoing, lively little girl and learning new things and meeting new people is enormously satisfying for her.
Zahara enjoyed the long trip to Kisoro, especially the multiple speed bumps we found on the road! She loved bouncing in the car so much that she would smile, grin and giggle each time we drove over the speed bumps.
In Kisoro, Zahara was very excited to participate in all the events of the day. Taking part in the Annual Disability Forum taught her a lot about the issues faced by the people she met with different disabilities.
She is very inquisitive and would ask her teachers questions about anything that puzzled her - like why some people use wheelchairs and others use crutches to get around. She also had the opportunity to demonstrate all the skills she learned at school, which filled her with pride.
The trip had such an impact on Zahara that on returning from Kisoro, her mother said that she talked about her experience every single day for a whole week. She talked about the crowds and the cars, the different people she met and the food she ate. She was continuously amazed at everything she encountered.
For young Zahara, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities was a day to celebrate her own achievements and enjoy some of the things that most people take for granted. A day that she will always remember – one of many more to come.
Josephine Akiru is Country Representative for Sense International (Uganda)
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First published: Friday 7 June 2013
Last updated: Thursday 18 September 2014