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“Nothing about us, without us” – Kato’s journey from Uganda to Nepal

13 March 2020

Kato shares his experience of living as a person with deafblindness in UgandaBy Lucy Akech, Sense International Programme Officer in Uganda

It’s 5pm when we are welcomed into the house by Madam Olivia. The walls of the house are decorated with pictures of graduation ceremonies, family and inspirational quotes.

“Twenty-two years back, I gave birth to twins - both boys,” Madam Olivia says. “When I found out that I was pregnant with two boys my husband and I were so happy. Everything appeared fine at birth but after two months I started to realize that both of them had difficulty turning and hearing. I took them to hospital, where the doctor said Kakulu was deafblind while Kato was deaf with some residual sight.”

Madam Olivia is a primary school teacher and her husband is a secondary school teacher. They had the means to educate their children but, when it came to Kato and Kakulu, they did not know how to support the boys except by giving them food and providing basic care.

“It was not easy balancing between work and taking care of the boys, but my husband has been very supportive,” Madam Olivia explains.

Madam Olivia is the treasurer for her local branch of the Uganda Parents with Deafblind Children Association (UPDBCA). It was through the UPDBCA that she came to know about the work of Sense International.

Madam Olivia supported her son Kato to be enrolled into a vocational skills training programme in a bakery in 2017 as part of Sense International’s National Lottery Community Fund project. He successfully graduated from the training and secured a job in a hotel where he now earns a wage of 200,000 Ugandan shillings per month. Kato is also a representative for people with deafblindness on the project steering committee.

“I’m so happy for our children. Kato has achieved a lot and I see great potential in him,” Kato’s father says.

With the support of the UPDBCA coordinator, Kato applied for a conference organised by the International Disability Alliance in Nepal. His application was successful and he travelled to Nepal to participate in the conference. Seeing Kato engage in this opportunity was a very exciting moment for his parents.

During the conference, Kato had the opportunity to visit schools in Nepal for deaf people and to learn about the challenges facing people with sensory impairments around the world. The conference provided Kato with the chance to meet other young people with disabilities and gave him a platform to share his experience of living with deafblindness in Uganda.

The conference addressed aspects of human rights such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and global initiatives linked to disability inclusive development including the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

After speaking to Kato about his experience in Nepal, it was evident that the conference was a huge opportunity for him to learn more about disability rights worldwide.

Kato’s dreams are big. He wants to work in big hotels, become independent and support his parents who are ageing.

Sense International Uganda supports young people with deafblindness through skills training and by building their communication skills so they are better enabled to become active citizens in their community. Seeing Kato participate not only within Ugandan society but also on an international stage demonstrates the enormous value in ensuring the potential of people with disabilities is fully realised.

Find out more about Sense International’s work in Uganda. 

First published: Tuesday 18 June 2013
Last updated: Friday 6 December 2019