Rising Beyond Limits
Kyakuwaire Rose is a remarkable 27-year-old woman who has defied all odds and embraced the power of resilience. Born into a humble family in a small village in Mayuge district, Kyakuwaire always dreamed of making a difference in the world. However, the odds were stacked against her from the beginning. She was born with one arm, a congenital limb defect of the arm; a disease that when an arm or leg does not form normally as a baby grows in the uterus. Growing up, Kyakuwaire had to overcome many challenges associated with having one arm. Not to mention the bullying from other people in the community. Kyakuwaire remembers that some people thought she was supposed to live since she was born with one arm.
She had to drop out of school due to financial and physical challenges. However, this did not deter her spirits. She had learned to adapt and navigate through life with only one arm, a constant reminder of the physical challenges she faced. As she grew older, Kyakuwaire’s resilience only strengthened. Fueled by her unwavering ambition, she defied societal expectations and refused to let her disability define her. She realized early on that her journey towards success would require more than just determination and ambition.
Now a mother, Kyakuwaire takes care of her child single-handed while her neighbors help her here and there. “What motivates me every day to face life? It’s my child. Even though my child has a dad, most men neglect us with disabilities. So, I work hard for my child to look smart, avoiding unnecessary problems. I want to be independent when sick, not relying on others,” Kyakuwaire’s husband abandoned her in the early days of her birth. Since then, Kyakuwaire has had to hustle and take full responsibility for her child.
Life took a positive turn when Kyakuwaire stumbled upon a job advertisement from African Evangelistic Enterprise (AEE), an organization with a commitment to disability inclusion. Kyakuwaire’s hope and determination led her to apply for the position of a Community Based Facilitator, a role that not only transformed her standard of living but also brought her dreams to reality. By working at AEE, she gained financial stability, which empowered her to embark on an entrepreneurial journey. Currently, she successfully operates a small business where she sells second-hand clothes and offers tailoring services. This balanced approach not only enhances her economic well-being but also fuels her creativity and self-empowerment.
“My life has changed with AEE. They pay me on time, and now I run a small business selling second-hand clothes. I can also tailor clothes, hitting two birds with one stone. Before AEE, I didn’t have a job, but now I have hope, waking up sure that I’ll receive my salary,” Kyakuwaire shares.
Kyakuwaire’s story stands out from the common sight of people with disabilities on the streets begging. She believes the main issue is not their abilities, but their negative mindset.
“We are not poor; our minds are poor. If people with disabilities start something positive, they can change their lives and live well.”
Before joining AEE, Kyakuwaire said she could not find a stable job because people looked at her and thought she might not carry out her tasks. To AEE, she is grateful to the organization for giving her the opportunity to prove that she is more than capable of working. Expressing gratitude to AEE, Kyakuwaire encourages the organization to continue supporting individuals with disabilities and bringing more people onboard.
“AEE has removed fear among us. I request them to continue working for us and bring more people with disabilities onboard. Let’s walk together and benefit from the services AEE provides“.
She also envisions a future where people with disabilities can walk together, benefiting from the services provided by inclusive organizations like AEE.
Kyakuwaire’s story is an example of triumph over adversity. Her message to others with disabilities is that the mindset matters more than the body. She believes that if people with disabilities focus on their abilities and start something positive, they can change their lives for the better. “…disability is a mindset, not just the body. We can do something and make everything look fine. Let’s be proud, work hard, and make people proud of us.” Her journey is a source of inspiration, emphasizing the transformative power of opportunities that embrace inclusivity. Her story encourages others to rise beyond limits, believe in their abilities, and take charge of their destinies.
Her remarkable journey aligns with the broader efforts of AEE with support from Stromme Foundation to bring about TOFI Economic Empowerment component with special emphasis on individuals with disabilities. As of October 2023, the program has made significant strides, forming a total of 99 iSAVE groups, with 63 in Mayuge and 36 in Luuka. These groups collectively boast 2953 members, with a noteworthy gender balance — 2157 females and 796 males. Importantly, within this community-driven initiative, 1619 members, comprising 1113 females and 506 males, are persons with disabilities.