By Namugerwa Martha
Fazira Kawuma has inspired a lot of women with disability. This incredible woman is blind but she can use a computer and smart phone comfortably which is rare for people with her condition.
Fazira lost her sight in her second year at the Uganda College of Commerce, Tororo where she had enrolled for a diploma in business studies. She had always wanted to be an accountant. But her dreams were shuttered to a point that she tried to take her life. However, she decided to hang in there, rose up to the occasion and fought for her right to live.
The last child in a family of nine, the Nyende family from Iganga.
Originally the family lived in Buwaabe, Nsaale Parish in Ibulanku Sub-county where she studied her Primary 1 and 2 at Nakibumbe Primary school. Then, the family migrated to Wante village in Mayuge district where she completed primary school at Mbale Church of Uganda Primary School.
The young woman grew up with a stepmother, having lost her biological mother at two months.
After completing primary seven, Kawuma went to Wairaka College before moving to Kawempe Muslim Secondary School in Senior two and later joined Hassan Tourabi Education Centre Bweyogerere in 2000 where she finished her O-Level and also sat Senior Six.
Kawuma started getting problems with her sight before leaving Kawempe Muslim. It only intensified when she moved to Hassan Tourabi, having a blurred vision but she managed to sit and pass her exams because of determination. She enrolled at the Uganda College of Commerce Tororo where she had completed only her first year but toward the end of second year, the condition became worse. She couldn’t see.
She sat at home for one and a half years until she was identified by Esther Kyozira, the current chairperson of the National Council for Disability who picked her and took her to Kireka Rehabilitation centre where the organization had organized a technology computer training project. She was trained in JAWS (job access with speech), a Braille programme and also encouraged to apply at Kyambogo University in the Community Based Rehabilitation Department, which she did and got admitted to the Faculty of Special Needs and Rehabilitation.
At campus, Kawuma also ventured in campus politics.
Initially she thought of competing as a faculty representative for the disabled students but later decided to go mainstream and she stood for Hall representative against someone who was not disabled. She won the election and became the GRC representative for the Hall.
Her participation in guild politics was a big launching pad for her political and advocacy career and by the end of her course, the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (Nudipu) and the Uganda National Association of the Blind (Unab) started inviting her for different trainings.
Kawuma’s identifies disabled persons, writes reports, gets support, counsel disabled persons and links people with disabilities to various opportunities. Her work as a volunteer connected her to the community where she was elected as Jinja PWD League local council V representing Jinja Municipality in 2011 also serving as secretary on the Eastern (Uganda) region PWD coordination committee covering 32 districts.
Kawuma is currently the executive secretary and a co-founder of Source of the Nile Union of Persons with Albinism (SNUPA) and the deputy speaker of Jinja district local government. She is the vice chairperson of the National Council for Disability where she serves and helps people with disabilities who are usually discriminated and also advocates for equality for sustainability and ownership of the program and providing sunscreen lotions for persons with albinism.