UGANDA: Ambrose Obiya, "The problems of the disabled have been forgotten"
Ambrose Obiya and his family returned home in northern Uganda this year after spending 16 years in a "protected village"
Awer, 16 October 2009 (IRIN) - Ambrose Obiya, 70, and his family returned home in March after spending 13 years in a nearby camp, or protected village, because the war between the army and the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army had subsided. Although life improved with the move, it was something of a hard homecoming, explains Obiya, who lost his sight in a car accident in 1978.
“Life in the camp was very dangerous because the rebels used to take children and loot food and even killed people. At first there weren’t enough soldiers so the rebels came to disturb people until the government added more.
“When I came back to this place there were no huts; we built them this year. We had nothing to eat and no money. We had to rely on relief food until we planted crops like sweet potatoes and beans.
“Life in the village is better than the camp because in the camp we could not raise our children properly or teach them properly because it was so congested.
“In the camp we had only one primary school for 2,000 children with few teachers so children could not get a good education. And there was only one health centre to serve three camps.
“We don’t have enough food yet because by the time we returned in March there was no rain, dry weather came and the food people planted dried up. The rains started just in August, that is why people are planting few crops, which we will have in the future but not now.
“What we need in the villages first of all is water because we don’t have enough, and secondly infrastructure like roads, because we see now with the rainy season our road is not good when it gets wet because it gets muddy and very slippery and causes lots of accidents. Feeder roads within villages are also not there - this makes movement difficult. Rivers need bridges. If possible the government should help.
“Healthcare is not adequate. First of all, there are not enough staff in the health units; we have a few nurses and at times there is no medicine.
“As for persons with disabilities, I think this problem has been forgotten by both the government and NGOs. We have been crying to the government that they should help our children with education because we people with disabilities don’t have any means of earning money.
“I think with the current security situation we hope to remain home for ever but we don’t know what will happen in the future. People have one fear, that if the rebels return people will be forced back to the camps but we pray they should not return. We ask the world community to assist us in eliminating [LRA leader Joseph] Kony for ever. If the international community could help us with that we would be very pleased.”