A Problem Shared Is A Problem Halved

Bethany / Uganda

In the last five years hospital staff and local amputees have identified the gap between physical and emotional rehabilitation provisions. Whether it be in The Gambia, Ghana or Uganda it is something that gets brought up time and time again – the related traumas associated with limb loss, how it further adds to existing pressures and the fact the under-funded, oversubscribed services struggle to meet needs.

Softly spoken twenty-four year old Nuhu Semakula was amputated in June this year after being involved in a road traffic. Nuhu has the support of his wife and family but attended the support group at Mulago to hear stories from other amputees

Mental health in all it’s forms; good, poor, severe, well-managed, medicated… Whatever it may be is a very complicated element of being human with an infinite number of variables. Amputees in sub-Saharan Africa understandably can be vulnerable to a decline in mental health. However a good support network can really support good mental health whether that be friends, family or a social enterprise group like Vincent Ruhweza’s in Fort portal, Western Uganda.

Vincent Ruhweza, a below the knee amputee, initiated a small pig rearing social enterprise in Fort Portal (Western Uganda) with the financial support of Community Based Organisation Mpora Rural Family. It was the group Vincent has brought together that we met with in Western Uganda
Vincent (fourth from the left) and the group he is rearing piglets with to a generate income for those with shares in the project. Far left and third from left is Morrence and Lic Mpora who run the Community Based Organisation known as Mpora Rural Family who provided a start-up loan to the group.

Community groups encourage the development of genuine relationships, build communities and best of all it doesn’t require costly professional input so easily accessible to those with little to no income.

Members attending one of the early meetings in The Gambia which ultimately lead to the officially recognised national association, the GAA

The Gambia’s first community support group is now a registered association advocating for amputees across the country but in its humble beginnings it provided a safe space for people with the shared experience of limb loss to relate to, advise and support one-another. Without such a group the Gambian Amputee Association (GAA) wouldn’t exist nor would the Gambian National Amputee Football Team.

Lawrence Kitimbo, President and Alex Mugerwa, Secretary of the Federation of Ugandan Amputee Football Association (bottom left in green) came to speak at the Mulago meeting about the benefits of continuing to be active after limb loss

In the last six weeks six meetings have taken place. Three in Kampala, one in Kasese Western Uganda and two in the Eastern region in collaboration with Integrated Disabled Womens Acitvities (IDIWA) in Iganga and local Mourine Alinykira in Jinja.

IDIWA meeting in Iganga. Second from right is Elizabeth Kayanga who founded IDIWA twenty years ago. Elizabeth’s dedication over the years has seen vast improvements for people with disabilities in her community.
Mourine’s group in Jijna. Many of whom were upper limb amputees as Mourine herself (second from the right, standing) lost her arm in a road traffic accident
Centre is community mobiliser and Eastern Region Amputee Association Chairperson Mourine. Her association is not yet officially registered due to lack of funds but Mourine set to networking with amputees very soon after being amputated because her husband left her and her family no longer accepted her, as a result she decided to create a support network of others who were going through the same thing.