Lynne Featherstone visits Uganda to highlight disability and development

Lynne featherstone by paul walterLast month, Liberal Democrat International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone wrote about her visit to the UN General Assembly where the focus was on putting the needs of people with disabilities at the heart of the overseas aid agenda:

More than one billion people worldwide live with disability and suffer huge discrimination as a result. They face unequal access to education, employment, healthcare, social support and the justice system. Consequently, they are disproportionately some of the poorest and most marginalised people in the world – part of an unseen great neglect.

To follow that up, Lynne is now in Uganda with British paralympian Ade Adepitan to highlight the challenges disabled people face on a daily basis and what the international aid community needs to do to help them. There are two ways in which you can follow her progress while she’s out there.

She will be blogging daily on her own blog. Here’s a snippet from yesterday’s entry.

Our first stop was a state school at the side of a dusty, rural road. 901 children attend classes there everyday. With only 14 extremely dedicated teachers, class sizes are large and teachers’ time is very stretched.

There are five million disabled people in Uganda, so it came as no surprise that there are many children at this school who also live with a disability.

We heard some truly inspiring stories – like Dorothy, a blind girl whose father carries her two and a half kilometres to school and back everyday to make sure she has an education.

Half way through the visit, the skies began to pour. A handful of children quickly huddled in one of the school’s small, dark classrooms. The rain on tin roof made it almost impossible to hear what anyone was saying. This would be a challenging place to teach one child even without a disability. Here they were teaching scores of children in each classroom.

Water Aid, a charity supported by Britain’s own development budget, is helping to improve school facilities. We saw a ‘inclusive toilet’ which is especially designed to ensure disabled children have the facilities they need to go to school in the first place.

She’s also tweeting regularly while she’s there.

When she comes back, she’ll write for us about her observations and conclusions from the trip.

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  • Matthew Huntbach 23rd Oct '13 - 12:58pm

    Uganda is a country where there was a serious proposal to execute people for being gay. Under those circumstances, I do not think our MPs should be visiting the country.

  • Martin Caffrey 23rd Oct '13 - 1:00pm

    What about the challenges disabled people face in this county due to this governments benefit changes???

  • Richard Dean 23rd Oct '13 - 1:38pm

    Well done Lynne. We must not discriminate in our efforts to mitigate disability.

  • “We must not discriminate in our efforts to mitigate disability” Okay, very laudable , but how do you square that statement with the current attitude shown by the government towards disabled people in this country?
    If ATOS is anything to go by the Coalition idea of mitigation is to deny disability exists and yes I do know that Labour introduced ATOS and the Work Capability Assessment but one of the first things the government did in was to change the discriptors from ‘tough’ to ludicrous in an effort to save money.

    @ Martin Caffery … Well said.

  • Graham Martin-Royle 23rd Oct '13 - 9:03pm

    I don’t agree with Matthew Huntbach that ministers should not visit Uganda, but while they are there they should use the opportunity to let the Ugandan authorities know that proposals such as executing people for being gay are not acceptable.

  • Martin Caffrey 23rd Oct '13 - 11:01pm

    @ Nigel R…..thank you.

    Although I feel I’m banging my head against the wall. I also feel betrayed, as I voted Liberal Democrat in 2010.

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th Oct '13 - 5:20pm

    In response to Graham Martin-Royle, what I really meant was that while this issue is live in Uganda, we ought not to treat the country in a friendly way. I’m happy to acknowledge that other countries must have the right to develop their own cultures, which may mean they don’t take quite the same line towards homosexuality as we do. However, what was being proposed in Uganda by people doing it seriously and regarding their proposals as serious was WAY beyond what I am willing to accept as a valid difference in cultures. And I think the people in Uganda and those in senior positions there need to have that told to them in no uncertain terms.

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