Friday, July 23, 2010

Breaking Point

After lunch today, I was asked if I wanted to conduct the demographic questionnaires to all of the students. This entailed talking 1-on-1 with the women (and one man) about personal information including questions like, “Is anyone in your household affected with AIDS/HIV?”, “Are you married?”, “What is the highest level of schooling finished?” and “What is your age/religion?” Some of these questions are a bit difficult to talk about but I think that I was successful in getting information from them that we can use to better the class in the future. We also asked things like “when was the first tailoring class you took?” and “what is your favorite thing to sew?” The last question was “is there anything else that I need to know?” This left it quite open and I was happy to hear that not only did the women want more DESIGN in their classes but also business skills. Many of them said that they simply could not afford to even start a business much less make any garments to start with. They didn’t have enough for tools/fabric to start but all of them were really eager to sew.

The one interview that sent me over the edge was Victoria. My sweet Victoria... ah yes, the second we sat down, she started talking to me and reading my lips like she had perfect hearing! I was SHOCKED and quite frankly a little annoyed that finally after the 2 weeks of writing a novel to her each day, she shows me that she’s completely able to tell what I’m saying and that I didn’t really have to write everything down for her! lol I just had to laugh. But on a serious note, I asked at the end if there was anything else left for her to tell me and she said that she needed our help with materials at the school where she teaches. To make a long story short, she teaches the deaf children at a normal school. She told me she makes 100,000 shillings a month (about $50) which was the most that any of the women made in the group so I thought the school paid her a very fair amount. When she mentioned she needed materials, she said that she gets paid from the U.S.A. and that the school didn’t provide her with anything. I was very confused but then discovered that the school, as well as Ugandans in general, don’t recognize people with any disability as a member of society. For instance, parents that have, say 4 children total (1 disabled child,) may say that they only have 3 kids. It’s absolutely heart wrenching to hear that. She and I had a really long talk about everything; I had to try the hardest I’ve ever had to to hold back the tears. But the second she got up and left, I grabbed Tara and broke down. I just can’t fathom that a society just completely disregards children and adults with disabilities. Luckily the main organization that we’re working with seeks out these people and helps them with learning vocational practices so they can make a living for themselves. Anyway, today was a really great day and I’m glad to have learned so much from my sweet, sweet Victoria.

Posted by Linsday

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