Despite the physical disability that shattered her career dreams while at university, Maureen Kusemererwa, unlike most Persons With Disabilities (PWDs), quickly thought of looking out for economic opportunities that could support her to progress.
The 40-year-old representative for women with disabilities at Hoima Municipal Council, hung her degree in Development Studies after discovering a convenient source of sustained livelihood.
“After my life changed from being normal, I decided to adjust and start making money for myself. I did not want to become a beggar because disability life is tasking. Crafts suited me because it does not bother a lot.”
However, Kusemererwa told Kazi-Njema News on Friday that her crafts meet low demand and people want to buy them cheaply yet the inputs imported from China and the African fabrics from Hoima and Kampala are expensive to procure.
“The buyers are yet to appreciate the beauty of the craft, the value of the new durable materials on market used in crocheting and a misconception that locally made products are cheaper yet they are better than imported ones”.
In order to have a steady flow of income, Kusemererwa diversifies by making munchies that earn her daily income. “You can’t get customers demanding for shoes all the time. But it is different with ‘daddies’. People want to eat all the time.”
Her initiative directly feed into Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); which advocate for the end of poverty in all forms everywhere and call for gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.
Born in Kinuubi Cell, Mparo Division in Hoima Municipality, however, Kusemererwa lacks equipment for her crafts trade.
This forces her to hire external services to finish up her products. Delays in getting imported inputs in time coupled with the high tax imposed on them slackens her business.
The councillor appeals to government for a tax waiver on such raw materials. She projects her business at Shs20 million if it is to boom better.
Kusemererwa urges PWDs to work for themselves instead of waiting for sympathy.
“People with disability should not pity themselves because nobody cares if one has a disability. Fall down, dust yourself and work to avoid being a beggar”.
Kusemererwa’s trouble began when her husband abandoned her after establishing that her sickness was turning into permanent disability prompting her to resort crafts making so she could fend for her son as a single mother.
“Men want perfect things. They see and like you. But don’t want to be with you. They will come, have kids with you; but won’t be with you for responsibility. Society sees someone with disability and puts them down”.
Challenges of women with disabilities Women with physical disabilities suffer multiple discrimination.
Their challenging biological, cultural and social attributes associated with being females, results into being denied opportunities in family and reproductive rights.
This is because of being of lesser status ascribed to them by tradition and custom. The government of Uganda injects Shs2 million into a group of 10 women under Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP).
This leaves each woman with Shs200, 000 to use as capital.
In March 2017, Uganda launched The Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) policy to support and promote the country’s manufacturing industry.
However, the policy is not effective as Ugandans continue buying more imported goods than local ones.