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Disabled Diploma Holder Turns To Tailoring After Losing Job Due To COVID-19 Lockdown

Bosco Oryem, a disabled cobbler appealed that disabled persons should be helped by the government. Photo by Emmy Daniel Ojara

Kenneth Lakareber, 38, is physically handicapped. He limps on one leg because his right leg is paralyzed since childhood. Lakareber, who stays in Bardege-Layibi division in Gulu City, holds a Diploma in Social Works and Administration from Makerere University.  

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in the country, he was a Librarian at the University of the Sacred Heart in Gulu City for over four years. However, the university terminated his contract in March 2020  due to the pandemic, which forced the government to close all educational institutions.     

According to Lakareber, the termination of his contract triggered sadness and stress since it was hard for him to settle without any source of income. He wondered how he would take care of his wife, son and the four other children under his care because he could not even dig due to his disability. 

Lakareber was earning Shillings 240,000 monthly on top of other benefits that would enable him to feed his family, pay rent, fees and medical bills of his household. He says that to make ends meet, he agreed with his wife to use the Shillings 400,000 he had saved from his salary to buy a hand sewing machine and start a tailoring training center since his wife had the basic knowledge.  

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Moved by hope and determination, Lakareber rented a house in Lacor Trading Centre, bought a sewing machine and garment materials and started ‘’Kica Pa Rwot’’ tailoring centre. 

Lakareber says that together with his wife they started making bags, clothes, dresses, uniforms and repairing damaged clothes at subsidized prices. 

Later, they started enrolling students for training; something he says increased their earnings since they charge Shillings 50,000 per learner.   

Now, Lakareber says that he earns at least Shillings 80,000 weekly compared to the Shillings 240,000, which he used to earn from the University. 

He has been able to buy two more sewing machines, enrolled ten students and is now planning to get back to school and enrol on a Bachelor in Counselling and Psychology degree program. 

His customer, Martin Akena, says that he does not only appreciate Lakareber’s work but he is moved by the fact that he beat the odds to fend for his family after losing his job due to the coronavirus disease.   

Geoffrey Omony, the Program Director of Youth Leaders for Restoration and Development (YOLRED), a youth-led rights organization operating in Northern Uganda run by former child soldiers noted that it is prudent to help the disabled persons, whom he says were greatly affected by the coronavirus disease. 

Jassi Sandhar, the team leader of Bristol University, says that their joint research with YOLRED on the impact of COVID-19 on the disabled persons in Northern Uganda demonstrates that COVID-19 has aggravated the socio-economic, health, and psychosocial issues PWDs face.  

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