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Almost everyone has ever had an experience of loneliness.
From broken hearts to loss of loved ones.
EVERYONE has a bad day once in a while but I would like to focus more on PWDs that continue to regularly have bad days.
The Baganda have a proverb that loosely translates to , “that when it rains it pours. “
Most PWDs face loneliness at different stages of their lives.
During childhood we don’t get to play with other kids, we stay home as others go to school, as we become teenagers we don’t experience the first crush, first kiss like our peers then we miss out on life at university, then work , marriage and starting a family.
It gets lonely when you consistently get #leftbehind
The sad FACT is that we are usually cut off from the rest of society.
Barriers that are physical; buildings and recreation spaces, barriers to services ; Healthcare ,education ,employment ,financial services and information ,barriers in terms of people’s attitudes.
Let us not forget that most PWDs are poor .
People without disabilities RARELY mix and mingle with PWDS, that are not either family or friends.
It’s like y’all think we are contagious or something
This makes us socially awkward. So we keep away from y’all
This causes isolation and loneliness that has become SIGNIFICANTLY worse during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yet no one wants to acknowledge this GRAVE injustice.
Whatever you hear or have read about PWDs, how many of you have heard about depression, loneliness and isolation as major issues or challenges in our communities?
Plus we all FEAR to speak about our FEELINGS especially in the African setting.
Almost a month ago I broke my arm, and I have found myself in familiar ground of grief for the lost independence that comes with both my left limbs being out of service and the despair that comes with this loss and a fight to adapt to the new normal.
This experience is NOT new ( I get recurring fractures) yet it has affected me more profoundly than usual.
AND lately , I have been feeling lonely, despite being surrounded by friends and family.
I feel people empathize but ONLY up to a level beyond which they cannot ￼FULLY understand.
Despite being privileged with financial security, Health care and moral support meaning less worry ,I can’t help the depression that has crept in.
SO how about someone else in a similar situation BUT with LESS?
My Islamic faith will tell me to compare myself with those less fortunate and honestly I do.
But that won’t entirely take away the pain but will somehow make it dull.
From past experience, I know BOTH professional therapy and spiritual healing are a must to go through this.
We need to NORMALIZE loneliness and depression faced by persons with disabilities.
We need to raise #disability awareness, that we are people first, with needs , pains and desires.
We need to have both infrastructural and cultural shifts.
( y’all can be a part of this )
better laws. Inclusive policies, behavioral change to acceptance by our communities,
Universal designs, accessible information & services and #inclusion for all.
We need to ADDRESS this problem the same way we have addressed skills development, education ,sexual health and reproductive rights, inclusive disability employment, GBV & accessibility barriers for the PWDs.
We need to tackle loneliness & depression as National issues otherwise ,all our other efforts to empower and lliberate PWDS will be for nothing.￼￼￼
We need to OPENLY discuss mental health and wellbeing ,EVERYDAY!!
Not ONLY in #May ( Mental Health Awareness month) , NOT at seminars and workshops BUT in our homes, our families, our places of worship and work and in our communities.
We need inclusive policies in our public health system that make psychosocial support services available to all Ugandans.
I will continue to soldier on, coz Allah got me!
I send my love and prayers to whoever is dealing with something heavy and sad.
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