In Uganda, disabled children like Isaac and Jacob face daily discrimination that denies them their chance to learn, socialise and be a part of their communities. But the story of their friendship paints a hopeful picture for inclusion.

Jacob was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was a few months old. His parents - like many others in Uganda - were worried that Jacob would be bullied because of his disability, so they decided to keep him at home when he was younger.

A staggering 91% of disabled children in Uganda miss out on primary education. Without that vital schooling, they are left with low confidence and little hope of becoming independent. 

Jacob told us why so many disabled children in Uganda are denied an education.

"The other disabled children I know from my community are kept at home. Two of them who can’t walk have no wheelchairs, they crawl on the ground and sometimes they are carried by their parents," he explained.

When he turned twelve, Jacob's parents were given the chance to send him to a rare inclusive school. Sadly, his first year has been marked by the bullying that his mum and dad feared.

The other children are not very nice to me. They tease me and bully me because of the way I speak and walk. Some of them call me mad person, others say sick person. This makes me feel rejected. My teachers are not nice to me either. Sometimes I feel lonely.

In spite of this, Jacob still enjoys school and has ambitions and dreams for his future.

"The best thing about going to school is learning a new language and learning how to play lots of games and sports.

"I walk well and sometimes I even run well too. But I feel shy. I would like to feel confident to play. [My best friend] Isaac plays sports so maybe I can too."

Isaac's story is very different. His parents were desperate for him to have an education and sent him to school as soon as they could. Though he has faced some bullying, his education has given him confidence.

"I never enjoyed school at the beginning, because there were a lot of problems. I faced teasing and bullying from other children like Jacob did, but I could speak and Jacob has speech difficulty," Isaac told us.

"Now I enjoy school very much. I like my teachers and my favourite subject is mathematics. I’d like to use mathematics to get a well-paid job at a bank when I’m older."

We asked Isaac to tell us his favourite thing about going to school with disabled and non-disabled children.

I love athletics and taking part in races. I enjoy being part of the team. I love competitions and I love to play with other children who are different from me. I know that I cannot win the running races but I love to try.

Motivation’s All-Stars project will help to create more schools where differences are embraced, so children like Jacob and Isaac have the chance to join in with the other children at school.

Our sports projects will break the stigma around disability by showing what disabled children can achieve when given opportunities. 

Our mentors will help disabled children to understand their rights.

Our teacher training will build more inclusive classrooms, where disability is not viewed as inability.

We asked both boys what part of the project they are most excited about.

"I would like to have a mentor who would support me and help talk to my parents about my education. And to help me also talk to those children and teachers who tease and bully me to stop," Jacob said.

And Isaac? He hopes to see his friend enjoying games just as much as he does:

"Playing sports is special to me because it makes me feel like I am accepted... I would like Jacob to start playing more sports with me. I think it will help him feel more confident.”

Help us to create a world where disabled children are included in society. Donate today to support Motivation's work to empower disabled people around the world.

Photos © Matt Grayson

The All-Stars project will be funded with UK Aid from the UK government.