Following support from Sense International, Hadija’s independence has challenged stigma associated with disability in her local community.
Hadija has deafblindness and cannot talk. It was difficult for her mother, Fasila, to come to terms with her daughter’s diagnosis. “When I first discovered her disability, I was so devastated,” explains Fasila, “it was as if she had died.”
When Sense International Uganda first met Hadija, they arranged for her to undergo hearing and sight testing at hospital. They also helped her to access an education. She was enrolled at a specialist unit for students with deafblindness at the local high school so that she could receive tailored learning support.
Sense International Uganda worked with Fasila too, providing therapy sessions to help her to accept her daughter’s disability. She also received training in sign language to enable her to communicate better with Hadija.
When the time came for Hadija to leave school, Sense International supported her to transition to a working life by providing a sewing machine. She uses this to make sweaters and produce other goods that she is able to sell. As well as allowing her to contribute to the household income, it has given Hadija a sense of independence.
Hadija’s success has had an impact on how people see her in the community, helping to challenge stigma and negative perceptions of people with disabilities. “At first other villagers used to call her names, but when they understood the situation, they stopped,” says Musilima, the Village Chairperson. “She is disciplined and hardworking, and we realise she is intelligent in other ways”.