We did not make it to Gulu yet and I did not really start my fellowship. Due to some logistical difficulties (we had to wait for a laptop to get repaired amongst other things) Mendi, the AP director of Africa programmes with contagious enthusiasm who I will be working with, and me are still in Kampala. The last few days we started discussing the work ahead and gathering and studying relevant material such as Uganda’s People With Disabilities Act of 2006 and Uganda’s Disability Policy. It’s now definite the focus of our work will be conflict survivors with disabilities in the Gulu and Amur districts in northern Uganda.
I am very much looking forward to meeting our partner organization, the Gulu Disabled Persons Union, an advocacy organization promoting the inclusion of PWD (Persons With Disabilities) rights in the reconstruction of northern Uganda, and I can’t wait to start the work. On the other hand, I don’t feel rushed as I will stay in Uganda until December. In fact I was very glad with the time to get to know Uganda’s capital city, to get to know people, and to enjoy and become comfortable with an unfamiliar culture. I tried to get as much exposure as I could. I paid a few visits to the Makerere University’s law faculty, attended a court hearing, sat a few chairs next to president’s wife during a film premiere and listened to her and her advisor’s speech, joined a friend to the police station to bail someone out, took another friend to the clinic for an X-ray after a car accident, went with another to the hospital, was taken along to a live radio show and found myself in good company and conversation on wooden benches in a bar in the slums 4 ‘o clock in the morning, amongst many other things. Not every single experience was as welcome and enjoyable but they all revealed a little about the country where I will be living the rest of this year. A country where everything seems possible for the rich and well connected, and where those with less luck often struggle to survive.
These new surroundings, experiences and the fantastic people I’m meeting could make me feel excited and on the edge the whole time. Instead I feel comfortable, fortunate, at ease and eager for more. (Thank you, last blog and those of you who read and reacted to it, for helping me find peace of mind.) I will really miss Kampala, but I am looking forward to what’s ahead in Gulu. Above all I look forward to finally starting what I came here for…
We are finally heading for Gulu this Tuesday. The work will start. We will support the ongoing disability campaigning. To do this, we will join forces with the Gulu Disabled Persons Union. The Union is a collective of five associations of disabled people advocates: blind people, deaf people, landmine survivors, women with disabilities and deaf and blind people. We will aid the advocates for disability rights with producing information (website content, newsletters as well as photo’s and video) and ICT capacity building. In addition, as we operate within the broader framework of the joined Survivor Corps/Advocacy Project Africa Programme, we will work towards building a broader coalition of conflict survivors who Advocacy Project and Survivor Corps will provide with services at a later stage.
What is mainly exciting about the work ahead, to me, is that this is (international) human rights law in action. The campaigning is all about bringing international and national human rights to the beneficiaries. Whatever legislation in place, it remains of no value until the moment of tangible implementation and translation to local reality, when local leaders are conscious about people’s rights and make a true effort in securing them, when the beneficiaries, in this case people with disabilities, are aware of their rights and the ways to invoke them and advocate for themselves. I am so excited to take part in this venture.
More news soon, from Gulu!
Posted By Annelieke Van De Wiel
Posted Aug 11th, 2008