Tuesday, July 17, 2012

TUMA DANDI

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TUMA DANDI, 38 years, married, journalist, physical disability

I was born in Kigoma region, Kasulu district, where in I got my primary and secondary education. In 1994 I got a traffic accident which completely affected my spinal cord. My legs remained partially paralyzed and I have been using a wheelchair in all life aspects for 18 years now.
After the accident I was admitted to the KCMC hospital in Kilimanjaro for one year. My family and relatives have been taking care of me for all this time and then got disappointed and tired. I was forced to struggle alone. Since I got my impairment at an adult age I faced a lot of challenges; psychologically and socially. Even things I used to do I found myself I couldn’t do them anymore.
I can say that it was very difficult to reach the point where I am now. A disability life is surrounded by  lot of challenges, it needs you to be patient. A disabled person is not a burden as we think, the person just needs to use his remaining functioning body parts as well as possible. Like me I have remained with arms, eyes, brain, head and desires so I use what I have in meeting my goals. I have even forgotten about having legs! Of course I am just a human being and I regret my accident sometimes, but what can I do – I encourage myself and keep going.
After staying at home for one year I went back to school where I repeated Form Four at Pugu high school and then went to the advanced level in Kilimanjaro. After there I joined the college, then I joined Tanzania School of Journalism at a certificate level. After completing my studies the challenge was how to get job! Previously I was discouraged by relatives that I have to stay at home since there are lots of people who are educated with degrees but yet do not have jobs, what about me a disabled person? But you know human beings can’t be God and everything happens for a reason. Maybe I got disabled so as to express God’s graces and I can see such graces are prevailing to me. Up to this moment I am educated with a Bachelor Degree in Mass communication, Diploma in secretariat, and Certificate in Journalism, so I am also good in computers to some extent.
I am employed by the University of Dar es salaam as a journalist and radio programs planner. I have been working with radio for nine years now. Before I was employed in Arusha by one radio known as Sunrise but I worked there for only two weeks and quitted my job due to accessibility reasons. The office was situated upstairs and it was difficult for me to access it. At the beginning I got support from some workers and people who used to carry me up but as days went on they got tired and started to escape from me, then I found there is no reason for me to remain there. After staying home for three months I got another job and I am here at Mlimani Radio as programs coordinator and also Radio and TV presenter. I have programs concerning PWD’s.
I am married; It’s true that I faced some obstacles in my marriage process. The relatives from my wife’s side were reluctant for their sister to get married to a disabled person. I can’t blame them because they do not have an education concerning PWDs. But currently they understand and they are relatives and good friends of mine. I have educated them to take my situation as a normal thing since being disabled does not mean that I can’t do anything. I have eyes, arms, eyes, and brain which makes me function in a productive manner to the extent of exceeding those who are not disabled. After seeing that life goes well between me and their daughter, they are now regretting their previous attitudes and I have forgiven them all.
My dream was to become a geologist and to work with mineral companies.  I came to realize that the nature of such profession requires a person who can walk and I can’t. So I had to change my vision from science to arts where I studied English, geography and history, that’s why you find me as a journalist today though I have a dream of becoming an administrator one day.
Through journalism I got different successes and achievements such as being popular and working with international media companies like Dutch well (DW) radio in Germany for one year. I was also awarded as the best journalist in reporting health issues and for competent news reporting (by Media Council of Tanzania). This year I am expecting to be awarded as a best PWD’s issues reporter, the event will take place this evening (30th March 2012). {He made it }. I have also managed to create friendships with people from different levels of life and socio-economic status.
I appreciate your coming today because there are few people who are interested in researching about PWD’s issues - what they always do is to report on unreliable statistics. For example you may find some people saying that PWD’s are not educated without saying to what extent! It is true that many of them are not educated, but also there are some educated PWD’s who can perform and produce good results, like me.

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