Yunusu is 32 years old and lives in Nsenge, a village near Jinja in Uganda. He is a lovely, cheerful and dignified young man, with an uplifting smile. He lives in very humble circumstances with his wider family.
At about the age of five Yunusu collapsed, suffering from polio. From that point he completely lost the use of his legs. He needs bespoke built-up shoes and metal callipers.
This is particularly challenging in the rough terrain of village life, where there are precious few facilities or opportunities and most people live at subsistence level making a living from the land.
Yunusu started a project rearing goats, but unfortunately at some point all the goats died from disease.
Several years ago, as part of UgandAid’s work in Nsenge, we built a new home for Yunusu and his family. A couple of years later we brought a wheelchair from the UK for him to use.
About 4 years ago, a team member noticed the poor state of Yunusu’s shoes and asked whether we could pay for replacement shoes for him. This was agreed, and arrangements made to accompany him to Katalemwa in Kampala, where this type of bespoke shoe is made.
When Yunusu went in with one of our team his eyes lit up as he saw the shoes being made. He explained that he’d always wanted to learn this skill, and had already been learning shoe repair skills at home.
Katalemwa is a highly regarded teaching facility; part of the Leonard Cheshire organisation, and to cut a long story short Yunusu was enrolled for a twelve-month residential course in January 2017.
During that year in Kampala, not only did Yunusu excel as a model student but met his future wife Sharon, who worked nearby.
Once he had completed his training, we approached Jinja Hospital to find out whether Yunusu could be employed to provide specialist shoes and callipers for people with disabilities. They could not employ him on site, but are happy to refer potential clients to Yunusu.
So, he needs a workshop in a secure and stable environment to set up in business. We approached Nile Vocational Institute about building a workshop on their campus, and they were very happy to accommodate it as part of the perimeter of their site, which gives an interface with the road. Indeed NVI shared with us that they had been considering adding shoe repair courses to their portfolio, so this project could have a lot of potential.
Plans have been prepared and building will progress as soon as the necessary funds can be raised. We hope to build and fully equip the workshop early in 2019.Once this is established, hopefully Yunusu will have his life turned round by this great opportunity.