All around the world families, teachers and children affected by developmental disabilities struggle for equality. But in some countries they struggle to survive.
The young woman in this video, her name is Kansiime. She's sweet, she's kind, her smile is infectious and even though she's young, she's faced more danger than most of us will in a lifetime. We advocate for young people like Kansiime.
This is her story...
At first, Kansiime's mother walked proudly through the village with her child strapped to her back. But that soon changed. At first she noticed little things, like that her child wasn’t speaking quietly like the other children.
Rumors began slowly.
“Kasiru?” questioned the villagers, a stupid one?
Worried, she stopped carrying Kansiime.
Then in the field one day, her mother eyed her nervously, watching her spin a potato, over and over. She took the potato away and told her daughter to work. Then watched in shock and fear as her daughter threw herself to the ground, screamed and pounded her head.
“Bad mother,” the village whispered.
Ashamed, she kept Kansiime in the house.
As she went to fetch water she looked back at her daughter, rocking in the corner and wondered, what could it be? When she returned her daughter was gone. She panicked and searched the village. She found her in a trash heap, humming and flapping her hands, as her neighbours gawked.
“Possessed,” the villagers accused, “cursed.”
Afraid and hopeless she took a rope and tied Kansiime to the bed.
And that is where Kansiime stayed...
Kansiime's story is not unique. Though Uganda is growing and developing, everyday children with developmental disabilities remain the most vulnerable. In a country where only 1% know the terms Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and Autism, they use the terms like kasiru, possessed and cursed instead. Today these children are being hidden away, living their entire life in a single dark room, chained to their homes, institutionalized or abandoned. Girls experience a “double disability” and face a high risk of molestation and trafficking, with over half experiencing ten or more incidents of abuse in their life.
This story is true. This really happened and it's happening to a child right now.
What will you do help?
We are part of a growing movement of parents, teachers and persons with disabilities uniting as one family to work tirelessly towards creating a world where all children are accepted and treated equally. Together we will end the atrocity of ignorance. Little by little, we are changing culture, and pushing boundaries. Stand with us.