|A common sight: |
Uncle Eric with his Bible and crutch.
He was the second born in his family and was raised by his Mom. Early in his life his older brother died and his mother lost another baby through miscarriage and was unable to have more children. He contracted polio and until the age of four was unable to walk. His mother was encouraged by friends to get him crutches and he soon learned to walk using them. One day he asked his mother if she would buy him a metal car on wheels attached to a long stick. These hand-made toys are popular with young children. His mother responded by asking him, "How will you push it? You use crutches."
A seed was planted in his mind. Maybe I don't need to use two crutches and for the next two weeks he taught himself to walk with one crutch. He fell time and time again but he was determined to succeed and succeed he did. His Mom saved and saved and bought the toy!
Uncle Eric went on to describe his early days in a primary school of 600 students as the only child with a disability.
During secondary school his Mom became weaker and weaker as she suffered from HIV-Aids and he had to leave school to care for her until her death. Relatives supported him for a few years by paying school fees but when they were unable to continue to pay the fees the school he was attending allowed him to stay on. They would not release his final year results however, without payment for the fees. For three years he made and sold crafts to try and raise the money needed to pay his debt and eventually managed to save enough and receive his results. The three year gap meant that teacher's colleges refused him entrance and so he went back to making crafts and selling them through a disability outreach program.
Eventually his obvious skill and ability to teach were recognised by a disability organisation and he began teaching blind children how to make paper beads and woven purses. That led to other opportunities to work with disabled children and he has now been a part of the special needs program here at New Hope for a year and a half. During the last three months he has pioneered a radio program on disabilities on the New Hope Uganda radio station which is seeking to transform the way disabilities are viewed in this community. As we've mentioned before there is widespread misunderstanding and acceptance of disabled children and adults. This program has opened the door to many seeking ways to find help and resources to care for their family members. How grateful we are for this special man and how wonderful to see how God is using him.