I met this man in Odek, the original home area of Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. In 2003, Otto was working for the food aid program of African Christian Fellowship (ACF) and was on his way back to Gulu from Odek when his caravan was ambushed by rebels. The rebels opened fire on the vehicles simply because they dared to enter the area of Uganda which the rebels claimed to “own.” It didn’t matter that the vehicles were part of a humanitarian mission; any and all movement on the roads was prohibited.
People took this warning seriously, for the most part, and it was not uncommon during the late 1990s to see people flying to destinations less than 50 miles away.
During this particular ambush, Otto was shot in the ankle and escaped with relatively minor injuries. Unfortunately, three women and one man from the group were killed, including a board member from the Gulu Disabled Persons Union.
After recovering physically, Otto began to look for ways in which he could continue working to help people affected by the war in Northern Uganda. There was a strong sense of dependency on donors, he told me, but he realized that dependency will not take you very far. “Do not wait for anyone to help you, go out and do a little job (to raise money),” he told me.
Otto went out and joined the local government to try and expand his influence. He is now the Secretary of the Odek Subcounty Association for Disabilities. He was in Odek today to attend a training on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In addition to that, he has been spearheading an income-generating project for people with disabilities. They are designing concrete slabs for the construction of latrines. Of course, the design also improves the accessibility of the latrines for PWDs. I was impressed by the innovative nature of this project, which not only creates financial opportunity but also spurs inclusive development; the best of both worlds.
Posted By Bryan Lupton
Posted Jul 28th, 2009