By Titus Kakembo
Kampala City experiences child and adult beggars on the streets but. there are crippled ones who are challenged to navigate intersections and snuggle between cars asking for food/money.
Their numbers increased during the LRA insurgency in northern Uganda and the Covid-19 Lockdown in 2020. They followed their “donors” to their homes where they went door to door.
NRM Vice Chairperson Singh Katongole jumped over water poodles like a sprinting kangaroo and catwalk on squeaking pieces of wood serving as bridges. This was done while delivering: mattresses, bed sheets and other household amenities to the disabled community in Kyebando.
“This is the time of the year to celebrate and thank God for every second you live,” said Katongole. “Many with amenities and cash have not seen another year since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world in 2020.”
He assured the disabled that government is aware of their plight and has plans for them in the Parish model which is due.
“We want to give you and your family hope,” stressed Katongole. “The children need better education to compete for jobs and you need food on your table. This is besides not having a source of income.”
This was at Lisa Care Center in Kyebando where more than 60 disabled people have a shelter. Talking about their plight, the speaker of the group revealed that most of them hail from Northern Uganda.
“We fled from Lords Resistance Army,” said Moses Olera. “After the guns of war were silenced, unscrupulous relatives sold off communal land. Most of us know not where the homes were since they were overgrown with bush.”
Beaming with smiles of appreciation the Chairman of the group Joel Opoka every home of the 45 members is destined to benefit.
“But do not be tempted to make very many babies given the comfort you now have,” warned Opoka. “Think about the resources at your disposal before you choose to have a child. No parent wants to see a child on the streets.”
True Opoka’s word every house headed by a man has more than six to seven children. Asked what they do for a living, many said without skills to sell in the job mart they go begging on the streets.
“Life has been hard during the Lockdowns,” confided John Okello. “Even motorists trapped in a traffic jam would turn a blind eye when we went supplicating them for help.”
The shopping list included wheelchairs, regular Covid-19 Lockdown beans and maize flour and artificial limbs to improve their mobility.
“The Prime Minister Robina Nabbanja does not have our telephone numbers because none of us, who are a more needy section in society but never got a call from her for the sh100, 000,” asserted Okello. “Here we just sniff a neighbour preparing: fish, meat or chicken stew.”
The cost of living is so high in Kampala compared to how it was back home in Pader, Nwoya or Amuru.
“Here everything is monetary,” noted Steven Odongo. “Whether you want drinking water or answer to nature’s call – you have to pay sh100-sh500.”