Rising above disability through wheelchair racing – Joseph Tebandeke

Joseph is a charming 24 yr old athlete and the only rider with a wheelchair in 1st 45-day East Africa bicycle tour. He speaks with such charisma you would never believe his life struggles. LinkmeUg caught up with him during an inclusive dance training session at the Oasis Mall in Kampala.

The Disability

I missed the polio vaccine and at 5, my legs lost their energy. Efforts by my family saved one leg so now I use 2 crutches and a wheel chair occasionally but this destroyed my family.

My father died of heart problems and my mother left me with my grandmother in Busega who single handedly took me through school.

Childhood Challenges

Primary was not so stressing save for the compulsory physical exercise. Trouble started in high school when I went to a boarding school still under construction. I missed several meals a week because the kitchen was far off and boys didn’t want the girls to see them with 2 plates.

Passersby used to stare at me so much that I would tremble but grandmother encouraged me and I got over it.

Education

In my S.3, grandmother died. My friends and I paid for my S.4. Unable to continue I took on craft making to earn a living.

I also saved to go back to school and together with Mwalimu Musheshe – a friend; I was able to enroll for a certificate in Computer Science at Buganda royal Institute.

Life today

I live alone in Kawempe and earn a living through a small profit I make subletting a shop in the New Park – downtown Kampala. I also make art and crafts pieces but marketing them in my condition is very tricky.

Worst experience

I once applied for a job but when I went for the interview, the owner offered me 100,000/= instead of an interview. I rejected it because I needed the job for regular payment and not the handout.

Later, at home, I realized the money had been smuggled into my documents. I hate pity; PWDs need the same opportunities and an inclusive environment.

Wheelchair racing

In 2014, I met Kizito Nsubuga from wheelchair basketball and I was very interested. Later, I joined wheelchair racing using items donated by the Chinese to Paralympics committee.

I introduced more Youth with Disability to the sport and now we have a team training every Saturday at Namboole.

East African Bicycle tour

I was invited by John Balongo, the organiser of East Africa bicycle tour, to raise awareness about benefits of EAC to the masses. 25 riders from the 5 major EAC countries trained for the tour and set off from Uganda on August 1, 2017 returning on 15th September 2017.

Highlights

Many people don’t know anything about the community in fact an officer in Tanzania fined us for flying a “Jamaican flag” in but it was for the EAC.

There were several challenges; I had the wrong wheel chair and the hills in Burundi didn’t understand that. A terrible driver in Kenya forced me off the road into a trench. The cold in Kenya and TZ didn’t help the situation.

Future plans

5 of us started Rising Stars club. Lawrence Kitimbo runs amputee soccer, Kizito Nsubuga– wheelchair basketball, Kevin Mubiru – sitting volley ball, and Ocilla Richard. We’re training for the 2018 Standard chartered Dubai Marathon but need financial support.

Inclusive dancing

Joseph: I am part of the Splash dance group in which people with and without disability present creative dances. We are hired to present on functions.

To contact Joseph for his art, Splash dance group or to support their Dubai Marathon campaign, call +256705509050

LinkmeUg

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