Supporting disabled children and their families to live the lives they choose

The challenge

  • There are 2.5 million disabled children in Uganda
  • 88% of parents struggle to meet the needs of their disabled child
  • Only 2% of disabled children attend school

In a country where disability carries huge stigma, disabled children face an uncertain future. Parents often face community pressure to abandon their child, are isolated from their families and are forced to fight for their inclusion.

Without support, training and the right wheelchairs, many parents struggle to meet their children’s basic needs. This leaves them vulnerable to malnutrition, breathing difficulties, spinal deformities and pressure ulcers.

Taking care of a disabled child takes time – time when most parents would otherwise be trying to earn a living. As a result, many of these families live in extreme poverty.

Waldah and Lucy's story is typical of many. At just a few months old, Waldah was diagnosed with cerebal palsy. Her mother faced negative attitudes from her family and community: "The neighbours said I had produced a snake."

Motivation in Uganda

We’ve worked in Uganda since 2004. Our recent project – When I Grow Up – has supported over 400 disabled children and their families in Kampala and Kasese. Part-funded with UK aid from the UK Government, it gave parents an introduction to their children’s disability, including basic healthcare and everyday activities. Many parents began to see their child’s potential for the first time.   

It also provided training and support to parents for setting up group savings schemes and developing income generating activities.

The project was hugely successful and demand was extremely high. We’re now expanding the project to reach even more children and their families in these regions. Through peer group training and the development of wheelchair services, we aim to give much-needed support so even more children can be mobile, healthy and included.

See how our Parent Carer training changes attitudes

Our priorities

Building local skills and expertise

We’re training community members and building the skills of local technical and clinical staff, so wheelchair services, repairs and maintenance are more widely available in Kampala and Kasese.

We’re also supporting them to partner with organisations who have community links with local disabled people already. By running outreach events together in rural communities, we’re making sure that children who would not be able to travel can still access appropriate wheelchairs.

Empowering parents

Cerebral palsy is the most common cause of childhood disability in Uganda but it is poorly understood. Our Parent Carer Training courses want to reach 768 families to support them in understanding the true causes of their child’s disability and empowering them to stand up for their basic human rights.

The courses also teach simple techniques that can have a huge impact on a child’s development – such as how to feed safely and how to encourage communication and play.

The training had an immediate, life-changing impact for Lucy. She met parents like her, learnt about her daughter's condition and joined a village savings group that helped her secure a better future.

"We have bought land for Waldah and want to build a house for her; when we are not around, she will have somewhere to live."

Addressing household poverty

We’ve trained community volunteers who go on to mentor the wider parent support network in savings culture, group management and other business skills. We also link these networks with other livelihood opportunities in their communities. This will give them a number of work options and meet the skills and interests of different people in the group.

Through village saving groups that provide modest start-up loans, we hope to help 780 parents and carers of disabled children to increase their incomes. This much-needed opportunity to earn a livelihood will help them to pay for their children's healthcare and school fees, and will provide a route out of poverty.

Inspiring confidence and building resilience

Our Peer Training programmes are run by wheelchair users, for wheelchair users. The training provides vital information and skills in bladder and bowel management, wheelchair handling and disability rights – including the right to education. In our current project, 40 disabled children in Kampala and Kasese will benefit from this life-changing training. 

Find out more

If you have further questions about our work in Uganda or would like to receive extra information, please get in touch on 0117 966 0398 or [email protected].

Support Motivation

You can empower disabled people in Uganda and throughout our other focus countries by making a donation today.

Photos © Matt Grayson