Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Disabled to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro

A group of Ugandans with various disabilities will join counterparts from East Africa and the UK to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

“We are destined for Uhuru Peak at a height of 5,895 meters. We will follow the Machame Route, which approaches Kilimanjaro from the south,” said Robert Nkwangu (deaf) through an interpreter.
“The six-day adventure is going to remain engraved in my mind for the rest of my life,” he noted.

The adventure, code-named AbleChildAfrica, is to begin on November 26 in Moshi.

“I have braved many hurdles, but the biting cold and the steep cliffs on Mount Kilimanjaro are new ones,” said physically handicapped Paddy Kasirye.
“By December 3, we will be at Uhuru to coincide with International Disability Day.”

The theme of the day is Empowerment Through Inclusiveness and Choice.
Four Kenyans, four Ugandans, four Tanzanians and 20 Britons will take part in the adventure. Each climb costs about £2,000 per person.

An entourage comprising journalists, charity organisations and sympathisers from across the world will witness the event, which comes at a time when Uganda Society for the Disabled (USDC) statistics show that 7.2% of the country’s population has some form of disability.

The USDC executive director, Suzan Kisitu, said: “Four out of every 10 disabled persons are neglected by their families.” “Unfortunately, 50% of them are children. We hope to raise sh100m to support them and enable them to have another chance in life.”

The most common form of disability is cerebral palsy (a side effect of malaria).
Disability is often associated with witchcraft. In some instances, families break up if a child is either born crippled or deformed.

“Some physically handicapped persons are kept away from society for fear of being laughed at by their peers,” Kisitu said.

The proceeds from the expedition are to facilitate the numerous activities of USDC such as counselling and the provision of crutches and wheel chairs to the disabled in 22 districts in Uganda.

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