As the cliché says, disability is not inability. Alex Mugerwa (23) is disabled in one leg but currently pursuing his Bachelor’s Degree in Telecommunication Engineering at Makerere University Kampala. Alex is happily living a positive life and expects to be a better person in future. LinkmeUg’s Aggrey Nyondwa caught up with him and here is an insight on how the conversation went;
LinkmeUg: For how long have you had this disability?
Alex: When I was 4 years old in nursery school, I was knocked down by an over speeding car near home in Kabowa. I am now 23, so you could say I have had this condition for about 19 years. The accident badly broke my leg and it had to be cut off. It is called left below knee amputation. The doctor in charge delayed so it had to get to this. The wound was not cared for and it developed tetanus and later became cancerous necessitating the leg to be cut off. Perhaps if the doctors were as effective, they would have saved my leg. I also think it’s because we didn’t have enough money.
LInkmeUg: Do you ever feel any physical pain?
Alex: I used to feel pain when I was young. Now I don’t except the effects of using clutches over a long period of time like skin irritation and some frequent joint pains.
LInkmeUg: What has your school life been like with such a condition?
Alex: My school life wasn’t so hard probably because I was an academic giant. My performance helped me get away from all sorts of insults. Students respected me, I always had first grades and they would come to me for consultation. I faced a challenge of walking from home to school though because I was in day school and kids on the way who knew nothing about me would stop to wonder at “the boy with one leg.”
LInkmeUg: For how long were you in day school?
Alex: I was in day school my entire primary education. I only joined boarding section in my senior one. Day school was very hard for me because we had late evening classes and morning preps so at times my mum would carry me on her back and rush me to school. My dad also used to come in and ride me on his bicycle to school.
Life got a little less complicated in boarding section because everything was close; water and so on. I could wash and go about by daily life because my nature of disability doesn’t limit me so much.
LInkmeUg: How do you deal with people who stare or point fingers?
Alex: I don’t mind people looking at me. I just ignore and move. I am used to it and I feel confident in my mind because I can’t change anything about it. So it’s about one’s mind.
LInkmeUg: How has been your journey to university?
Alex: My journey hasn’t been an easy one but what kept me going was my good performance at school. I got a first grade in O’level and 18pts at A’level. This helped me secure a government sponsorship at university. So academically it has been a smooth journey.
LInkmeUg: Have you benefited from any projects from any organizations dealing with PWDs?
Alex: Just a few, there was the Wewumulire project which at some point paid half of my school fees but that was way back and it only lasted for a short time. Besides it was basically for all people especially the poor ones, not necessarily disabled ones. Others include Katalemwa Cheshire Home for Rehabilitation Services on Gayaza Road, they helped me for some time. I was meant to go through some operation courtesy of them but that didn’t happen however they gave me the clutches am using right now.
LInkmeUg: Do you ever feel bad about your condition?
Alex: Never. There is nothing I can change. I have accepted who I am and am now focused on my future not just sympathizing with myself.
LInkmeUg: What makes you happy and sad?
Alex: Excellency makes me happy. All that I have achieved academically makes me happy. Some ‘normal’ people out there do not have what I have. On the other hand, I feel bad when am undermined and isolated by people who have no idea how capable I am. It really gets me sad and angry. I also challenged by the constant use of cluthes; its so tiresome and there are some points I can’t reach, there are some things I can’t do so it’s a bit hard to handle.
LInkmeUg: Do you participate in any sports activities?
Alex: I used to play football- Para football. I tried Para volleyball too. But my interest is more in football.
Aggrey: What do people like about you?
Alex: (chuckles) You could ask them, but am social and easy to deal with. I think everyone would love that about someone.
LinkmeUg: What is your best moment in life?
Alex: The day I was called to pick my addition letter at Makerere university.
LinkmeUg: What are your hobbies?
Alex: I like watching football and athletics, listening to gospel music. I am not a party guy. I like resting, sitting in a quite place.
LinkmeUg: Where do u see yourself in the next ten years?
Alex: I see myself in a good place. Very successful and helping all sorts of people.
LinkmeUg: A word to young people with certain disabilities.
Alex: You have to accept who you are. Feel encouraged and motivated. Identify inspirational figures to look to and don’t isolate yourself but rather mingle with society.
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