Before heading off on my field trip to Northern Uganda. I was invited to attend a workshop for graduates with hearing impairment in Mukono, on the outskirts of Kampala.
Since this is a key project that I will be working on, Julius my CSU colleague suggested I accompany him so I could learn more.
The project is a partnership with an emphasis on training and raising the capacity of local Disability Persons Organisation (DPO) who in turn offer support and skills training to local graduates to enable them to enter waged employment. So in effect CSU work indirectly by empowering local disability organisations rather than overseeing project implantation itself.
Employment for PwD, despite Ugandan legislation since 2006 (very similar to the UK’s Equality Act) continues to be a big challenge with many obstacles for individuals to overcome. This is also on the background of high unemployment, as the Ugandan economy has had minimal growth these past few years.
The training delivered by Ugandan National Association of the Deaf (UNAD) was about self-esteem, building self confidence and how to remain resilient. Maintaining resilience and the ability to bounce back from setbacks is an important life skill for us ALL, even more so for a group that tend to be marginalised and disregarded within Ugandan society.
Stories shared by a number of the participants were highly personal, emotive and in some cases very upsetting.
One graduate shared how she was called for a 9am interview but then kept waiting for the whole day. Meanwhile others scheduled after her were interviewed while she continued to wait without explanation. She was eventually taken into the interview room and given 10 minutes with the panel which was purely cursory. Needless to say she was not successful.
Another graduate recounted that following an interview with a bank, he received an email explaining that they had enjoyed meeting him and that he had done well on his interview, however he had not been successful due to his hearing difficulty. In addition the admitted that they had only shortlisted him as they had certain internal recruitment targets to be met!
Overall these narratives sounded very familiar and in my view are so common to our daily human experience. Globally, individuals continue to face inequity and discrimination on the grounds of their disability, race, gender, sexuality etc. Even in the UK where we have so many legal protections and consider ourselves more developed, unfortunately PwD and others continue to face similar obstacles within education, employment and society as a whole. No doubt, there is still plenty of progress to be made.