The Advocacy Project, the GDPU and my Expectations
What exactly is the “Advocacy Project”? Aside from a potentially awesome sounding name for a rock band, the Advocacy Project (AP) is an amazing organization that helps marginalized communities to tell their story, claim their rights and produce social change. The AP is partnered with the Ugandan organization I will be working this summer, the Gulu Disabled Person’s Union [GDPU]), and aims to assist them in promoting, developing, and empowering persons with disabilities economically and socially.
The GDPU was formed to create a unified voice of people with disabilities in order for them to collectively advocate for equal opportunities and participate both in policy making and implementation of programmes that target individuals with disabilities. In order to achieve this goal the GDPU is closely working with both government and nongovernmental groups, including the Advocacy Project. All these are being done to influence provision of services to people with disabilities.
As a Fellow, I will be working to help disabled people in Gulu (whether by birth or as a result of the 25+ year war with the Lords Resistance Army) create work and gain a place in the local government. The worst of the war seems to be over, so people in Internally Displaced persons camps are moving home and starting to rebuild. However, reconstruction efforts often overlook people with disabilities, a small but eager minority group.
As previously mentioned in my earlier blog the region only has ONE functioning washroom that is accessible for persons with disabilities. That’s right, ONE! No pun intended but it seems that meeting the basic rights of persons with disabilities (even the simple right to do one’s business) is not number 1 or 2 on the government’s priority list. My work this summer will be to help promote and create opportunities for people with disabilities to have a say and get the support they need as they work to move home.
I have very high expectations for myself with regards to this Peace Fellowship and helping the GDPU with reaching their long term goals and creating social change. I am very motivated to play any role I can in helping the GDPU to change societal views on persons with disabilities. As an individual with a speech impediment I am familiar with false assumptions of my abilities and character attributes based on irrelevant criteria. Concrete goals I can see trying to achieve will be playing a role in the construction of more wheelchair accessible toilets in the community in addition to having village councils electing persons with disabilities to and serve as a political voice in the community for persons with disability. However, these goals and expectations may change upon an open course of effective and critical dialogue with the GDPU for meeting their needs and long term goals for social change.
What I can 100% guarantee expect to happen will be to have a wonderful experience and relationship with the people of the GDPU. I met a majority of the individuals last year through coaching and friendly conversations and I am very much looking forward to working with such a welcoming, motivated, passionate and compassionate group of people.
Dennis and I after basketball practice – 2011
So I invite you to come along with me and join me on this journey of serving as an advocate for persons with disabilities in northern Uganda. Read my blogs, comment, give me advice, send me chocolate if you’d like as I do think aside from missing family and friends I will miss this a lot too.
APWOYO MATEK (thank you) and peace,
Posted By Dane Macri
Posted Jul 23rd, 2012