Richard Okech is the Odek Sub-county Association Chairman. He assumed this role in 1999 because he realized that the local government at the time was not concerned with the rights of people living with disabilities. “They promise, but they don’t bring,” he said, simply.
Richard elaborated: “I can help people. Only the government can’t help by itself. I decided that I must do some of the work myself.”
I asked Richard how he felt about the information he had received at a recent training put on by the GDPU concerning the rights of Persons with Disabilities. He told me “It’s very good. I never knew, but now I have it. I will carry on the information by teaching other people.”
Richard has not led an easy life. He lost an eye when he fell into a cooking fire as a toddler. His daughter was abducted by Joseph Kony’s LRA and she never came back. After taking his daughter, the rebels stole all of animals as well, wiping out a lifetime of saving and investment. I came to find out as well that Okech and Kony even belong to the same clan, a loosely-defined extended family relationship.
Apparently, Kony doesn’t care about his own clan any more than anyone else’s, though. “What he is doing is not good.” Okech told me, “He is my clan brother, but he has killed many people from our clan. We are related on my father’s side, but he (Kony) doesn’t care.”
After all of this, Okech remains hopeful. As for how he sees the future of Uganda, Okech told me that he focuses on “the small changes for the better. Things are improving. In Odek, there used to be no changes, but now there is a little bit. We are trying…”
That’s what it all boils down to. In a country and a region that have seen so much destruction, rehabilitation comes in very small, almost inperceptible amounts. The relief is incremental, but with focus, one can see it. And when you can see it, you can add to it and help others notice it as well. Okech Richard can see it, and he’s showing others where to look.
Posted By Bryan Lupton
Posted Jul 30th, 2009