Since the being in Uganda I have asked almost 200 children a simple question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The results reflect the limited job opportunities in Uganda. It’s less about passion, more about earning a regular salary.
- 40% – Doctor
- 30% – Teacher
- 8% – Driver
- 5% – Nurse
- 3% – Pilot
But there was one girl who decided to break the mold, to dream outside the box. “I want to be a journalist!” said Trudy Oroma, age 14. “I want to be on the radio, to be heard all over the world.” For those who have never met a Uganda child, it will be hard to explain how unique Trudy is. Most children speak in hushed voices, eye contact is rare, and most questions are answered with a nod of the head or the ubiquitous “mmm” sound but not Trudy. Even with her visual impairment, she is a bold girl with the most amazing smile.
Speaking with Trudy is easy; she carries herself like an adult and laughs as loud as one too. I asked her what games she likes to play. She replied, “I like netball, I am good at it.” Her back straight with pride as boasted about her skill. I tease her a bit and ask, only good? Trudy replies, “I am very good, I am the best actually. “ Confidence despite being labeled disabled is a rare yet beautiful thing.
I have spoken with Trudy on a few occasions, but then I asked her about her parents and everything changed. Her posture, her eyes, even her tone of voice shifted. I have gotten so used to hearing about the atrocities committed during the Kony Insurgency that I assumed Trudy’s parents must have fallen victim to the violence. However, the number of lives taken by Kony is just a fraction to those taken by HIV. Tears ran down her cheeks as she told me how her father died from the diseases, how she barely remembers what he looks like. Her mother struggles to support Trudy and her siblings alone. What does that struggle look like? Its looks like one meal a day, missing school to work on the farm, missing school because of school fees, missing school because if you are going to spend the money, why would you spend it on a disabled child? Trudy fell quiet after that, her eyes closed in an attempt to stop the flow of tears. I put my arm around her to comfort her, but I doubt it helped much.
Posted By Chris Markomanolakis (Uganda)
Posted Aug 11th, 2018