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Meet Teddy: Karamojong Teenager, Wheelchair User, Future Scientist

UNICEF Uganda
© UNICEF Uganda

By Dorothy Nakibuuka

NAWANTAU, Uganda, June 16.  Moving easily around the school compound in her wheelchair, Teddy Lomuria, a 15 year old girl living in the remote Karamoja region of Uganda, energetically proves that she knows how to live her life to the fullest – and that her disability will never deter her from achieving her all her dreams.

Due to a birth defect, Teddy has a disability hindering movement in both her legs. But she is determined to succeed in life, and is already proving she can.

“I want to become a nurse because this will enable me to treat people,” Teddy says.  She is currently finishing Primary Six studies.

Raised in a small and remote village of Nawantau, Moroto district, Teddy is the second born from a family of six. The sudden death of their father two years ago left Teddy’s mother sole caretaker of her children.

Like any loving parent, her mother always believed in her daughter’s future success. Despite continued discouragement from the community, she would brave the 14 kilometer journey to drop off and pick up her daughter from school.

Mobility at school
Before she received a wheelchair, Teddy would have to rely on volunteers to move her around in school; and in their absence, she would be totally stranded.

At one point, Teddy dropped out of school because of the difficulty getting around.

Eventually Teddy acquired a wheelchair and returned to classes.

“When I got this wheelchair, it was unbelievable!” she says.  “I was not the only one delighted but my mother, sisters and friends too, who without any complaint used to carry me on their backs every day.”

“Overnight my life changed for the better and during the first few weeks, there was no place that was out of reach for me; to school, to church, even to the market. I was actually showing off in my new wheel chair,” Teddy says with a laugh.  “It was like being born again.”

Learning and fun with friends
At boarding school, her day begins early with the rest of the children. With support from her sister and her best friend, Teddy is able to get out of bed, brush her teeth, bathe and get ready for classes on time.

She loves learning, and prefers sitting at the front of her class.
Her favorite subject is science. According to Gilbert Chesol, one of her teachers, “Teddy is an active girl and occasionally contributes during class discussions. I am confident she will pass her final primary examinations and proceed to secondary level.”

For extra curriculum activities, Teddy makes beautiful beadwork skirts and jewelry, plays board games with friends, and cheers on the netball team during competitions.

For Teddy, disability is not inability – and she knows the power of friendship in overcoming any challenges life may place in her way.  Holding up one of the intricately made, brilliantly colored beaded skirts known locally as ‘nakatukok’, Teddy says, “I make these for my friends as a sign of appreciation for whatever they do and may be in future.”

 

 
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