15 January 2013

Uganda: Sewandi Has Not Let Disability Hold Him Down

Despite being disabled, Musa Sewandi has achieved more than many able-bodied people. Whereas some people in his condition wake up every morning to go and beg on the streets, Sewandi heads to his work station near the Nakawa Taxi Park.

Many disabled people believe that they cannot do anything for a living. But for Sewandi, the story is different. He has to push his wheelchair from Mutungo to Nakawa to try and make ends meet.

Sewandi was born disabled in 1965. His father had a small business, but tried to educate his children. However, Sewandi never got a chance to go to school like his siblings.

"My father did not see any sense in educating me because I could not walk and no one was there to help me to school every day as I was the eldest," Sewandi says.

He says this used to hurt him, but he had nothing to do. "At some point, I thought God had punished me, but as the Bible says, God has plans for everyone. Certainly, he gave me the brains despite being disabled," Sewandi says.

He adds that in 1982, he started doing something for survival and his father bought him a wheelchair. He says he later borrowed sh700 from his friend and started making mandazi, which he hawked in Nakawa Market.

"People used to love my mandazi and I do not know whether they did it out of pity or not, but I was determined to work.

"By 1998, I had saved some money and I had paid back the debt. I decided to start making chapattis, but these were difficult and could take me a lot of time, so I decided to look for a permanent place where I could do business," he adds.

He says he bought a wooden kiosk in Nakawa and business worked very well for him. With the money he had got, he decided to marry.

"Marrying was the most important thing because I got a woman who helped me a lot. She is the one who pushes me to my workplace every day.

"Being in my state and you get someone who cares and loves you, then you should love her and never do anything to hurt her," he says.

By 2001, Sewandi had more capital, so he decided to start making samosas, fried cassava and selling tea. Sewandi wakes up as early as 4:00am to prepare and go to his workplace in Nakawa.

He works all day up to 11:00pm and sometimes to 12:00am, before he retires to Mutungo, where he resides. Sewandi says on a good day, he retires home with over sh120,000 and sometimes sh180,000.

"I come early for work because I know Sewandi is there and I am assured of ready breakfast. He really inspires me. He is a man who is supposed to be respected by able-bodied people because some of them are just there doing nothing," Christopher Kizito, a carpenter, says.


Sewandi says the biggest challenge is moving as he has to wait for his wife to push him to Nakawa, yet he would want to come by himself.

"Being in my state is not something easy because there are things you would want to do, but you cannot," Sewandi says. He also says too much heat from the charcoal stove sometimes makes him weak since he is unable to move around.


Sewandi advises disabled people not to be ashamed of themselves and to stop begging on the streets when they have the brains. "It really hurts me because these are the people who make people think that disability is inability, yet we can do everything that the able-bodied people can do.

So I call upon people with disabilities to be innovative and work," Sewandi advises. He also calls upon the Government to come up and support people who are disabled because many can engage in income-generating activities.

Sewandi adds that the disabled should be given some start-up capital. He also calls upon the Government to support children with disabilities because they are important and can do anything that the able-bodied people can do.

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