Females are strong as hell

Bethany / Uganda

Women in sub-saharan Africa can have a tough time. Disabled women in sub-saharan Africa can have it even harder and somehow female amputees fall in limbo. They have to fight to be seen as women thanks to misconceptions about disabilities and they have to fight to be visible in both able bodied and disabled communities because often neither community see a place from women with an acquired disability. 

In November Legs4Africa invited four female amputees from rural towns and villages in Uganda’s central region to participate in a craft skills development workshop. The group ranged in age from twenty to forty-six with causes of amputations being road traffic accidents, diabetes and cancer.

Workshop participants Esther, Gorreth and Judith with workshop leader Resty (Left to right)

It lasted for two days at a secluded retreat in Lugazi, giving the group a chance to recharge from their domestic duties (all four participants are single mothers), gain new skills and provided an opportunity for peer to peer talking therapy.

Warning: Sharing and learning may cause happiness

The ladies were taught how to make jewellery out of beans, weave accessories out of banana leaf fibre and fashion flowers out of leftover fabrics. The workshop included a night of accommodation and all meals as well as transport reimbursement to minimise any potential resistance from family, plus a starter pack of materials and tools were provided for participants to generate further stock to sell upon their return home.

Gorreth, a thirty year old single mother from Wakiso shows off her new skills. The beans used to make these necklaces are cheap and readily available. They are boiled with pigment, left to cool then threaded onto wire or jewellery cord. Once fully dry the jewellery is varnished so that it is durable.

After the workshop the group asked for more skills training as well as career guidance workshops and sessions about relevant human rights policies.

Esther, forty-six, also from Wakiso dreams of starting an amputee choir

Lydia, thrity-nine from Hoima said “This has been really good for us because it can be that we just sit in the house day in, day out. I’ve suffered a lot of self-hate because of the stigma in my community but coming here has made me feel like I’m gaining momentum.”

Twenty year old Judith from Lwengo has a three year old son and is the primary carer for her father – a polio survivor.

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