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Day of the African Child, 16 June 2012: Denis, an inspiration to children with disabilities in Uganda

© UNICEF/UGDA2012-00127/Michele Sibiloni
Denis (second left) uses a computer as his classmates looking on.

June 16 is the Day of the African Child. This year’s theme is about “The Rights of Children with Disabilities: The Duty to Protect, Respect, Promote and Fulfil. On this day, UNICEF calls on families, communities and governments throughout the continent to protect children with disabilities from discrimination, violence and neglect, and to provide them with access to all the services they need to grow up healthy and live up to their potential.

By Proscovia Nakibuuka

Uganda, 16 June 2012 – Meet Denis Komakech, a 17 year old pupil from Gulu district. Born with sight, Denis became blind when he was two years old after contracting measles. Against all odds, he is determined to succeed in his dream - becoming a lawyer in the future.

Children with disabilities are the most marginalized and vulnerable group in Uganda. They are often denied of their rights to health, education, and protection, and have a high risk of being excluded by the society.

“The public needs to know that children with disabilities can be useful citizens in the future and also contribute towards the development of the country,” said James Kabogozza, Assistant Commissioner for youth and children in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.

VIDEO: Denis Komakech, 17, delivers a public service announcement raising awareness about the skills and abilities of people living with disabilities. Watch in RealPlayer

Denis is just one such a example. He is fortunate to go to school. His school, Gulu High School, is an inclusive school with a special needs annex for students who are blind. UNICEF, through the district, supports the school with financial assistance and teacher training. The teenager is very good with computer and does most of his work using one. He also reads easily with braille. 

“I am a living example that disabled can do a lot. A blind person can use a computer even though he or she cannot see,” said Denis, as he comfortably used his computer. “I am moving together with the world because disability is not inability,” he adds with a smile.



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