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Kyalimpa changing mindset of children with disability

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Vester Kyalimpa was born normal, but became disabled at four years when she suffered a very severe fever that got her limbs paralyzed. While growing up, she was stigmatized due to her condition. As a way of changing this, she opted to empower people with disabilities (PWDs). She talked to Beatrice Nakibuuka about her service and experience.

Motivation
The 35-year-old single mother felt the sting of stigma one day when she visited her daughter and one of her daughter’s friends told her that her mother was a disgrace.

“I felt like I had been stabbed, but later forgave her because I realized many of the children do not know that PWDs are part of life and deserve equal rights like those without any disability,” she says.

It was then that Kyalimpa decided she would actively impact society, especially people living with disabilities.
Since 2008, she has been participating in the MTN Kampala Marathon.

In 2012, Kyalimpa won a wheelchair race for the PWDs category, beating 2o others.

“In the first years, I was losing because I was not doing as much practice before the marathon but I did not give up.

“I continued participating in running alongside the normal people in my wheelchair until the time I won in the category of the PWDs,” Kyalimpa adds.

In 2013, she hit the gym and her target was powerlifting. Her instructor helped her lift from 10kg up to 80kg now.

Kyalimpa (on wheelcahir) with some beneficiaries of her initiative. (Photos/Courtesy)

More achievements
After realizing her interest in weight lifting, Mpindi Bumali, the president of the Uganda National Action on Physical Disability registered, sponsored and transported Kyalimpa for the Commonwealth competitions for the physically handicapped in Scotland in 2014.

“This opportunity opened my eyes that I can traverse the world because there are several opportunities for us. It is just about the change of mindset.

“I was in fourth position, but I am sure I would have done better if I had had enough practice and rest,” Kyalimpa says.

In 2017, she went to Italy for the boat races. For three times, she has also engaged in the Indian Women’s Association competitions for PWDs.

From these competitions, Kyalimpa gets money which she uses to buy sewing machines.

“I now have three sewing machines which help me get daily income for sustainability. I am also able to pay tuition fees for my daughter who is at university,” she says.

Kyalimpa shows a sample of her work. (Photo/Beatrice Nakibuuka)

Support
In 2018, she was contacted by the Uganda Society for Disabled Children (USDC) to help the children with disability by empowering their mindset.

Her residence in Makindye has about 50 children who gather at St Ponsiano Kyamula Church (Salaama road) every Wednesday to engage in different sports that help them get empowered and socialise.

Kyalimpa helps the children with disabilities to connect with the normal ones.

This helps create awareness among the normal children that PWDs also exist and not to stigmatize them when they meet them.

She used to go to the gym three times a week but now she dedicated one of the days for the children to help them build their esteem.

She adds: “When the children with disability are here, we help them improve their mobility so that they are able to associate with others and also change their mindset that they can make it in life despite their disability.”

Kyalimpa on her wheelchair

Joram Bagagga, a coach with disability, describes Kyalimpa as a person with great positivity about her disability.

He adds that she is very enterprising, selfless and gives opportunity to anyone that deserves it.

“She was the right person to impact these children because from her story, she makes us think beyond our disability. She is very passionate about her work and sometimes fails to coach even if just one of the children is not well,” he says.

With her support, about 15 children have been able to join St Ponsiano Kyamula Primary School.

Kyalimpa says whatever support she is able to give to these children, she does with one heart.

She says: “Sometimes these children have needs beyond what I can provide.

“Some of the children need school fees, money for surgeries, especially those with Dawn Syndrome and other disabilities. I provide what I can afford.”

Kyalimpa hopes to get more financial support, which will help provide more sports and play items, medical support, clothes and many other needs for the children.

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