Honorable Councilor Teddy Luwar is the Representative for Women with Disabilities on the Amuru District Council. She entered local politics in 2002 because she was passionate about supporting people living with disabilities in Northern Uganda.
When she was 16 Teddy stepped on something that cut her foot and made her entire left leg swell up. It was a “local poison” she told me, and wouldn’t elaborate further. Whatever it was, it severely damaged her hip joint and she underwent two surgeries and more than a year of walking with crutches.
The experience of being excluded for a year, and being left behind when her friends and family went places that she couldn’t, left an indelible mark on Teddy. “Isolation is painful,” she recounted to me, “I was seeking a community so we could support each other.” Teddy started a women’s group, and it was popular and influential enough to gain Teddy a seat on the District Council within a few years.
Now, Teddy is advocating for not only women with disabilities, but for anyone affected by epilepsy, physical disabilities, vision impairment, deafness, mental retardation, leprosy and even those people whose children are living with a disability. Teddy is also on the Accessibility Audit Team for the Gulu Disabled Persons Union which inspects public buildings and grades them according to how easily accessible they are for people living with disabilities. Sadly, most buildings she audits do not receive a passing grade.
Nevertheless, Teddy is optimistic about the progress being made in Northern Uganda. “There is increased participation now,” she says. People are forming groups and working together, she explains. That is partly because they have a strong leader like Councilor Luwar to rally around. “I treat all of them like my children,” she told me. “I feel very happy, because (PWDs) are starting to come out. They used to be pointed at, looked at, and laughed at, but now they have more information about their rights and they have started coming out.”
Posted By Bryan Lupton
Posted Jul 13th, 2009