Friday, November 23, 2012



Disability Recruitment Specialist ( Radar Development Limited)
My names is Vincent Kaduma. I work for Radar Development, an organisation dealing with formal employment for people with disability. I am from Iringa ( Njombe).

My disability is a result of polio at the age of four. Initially, I was sent by my parents to Mdandu Missionary hospital where I was treated, but did not improve. With a suggestion from a family friend, I was referred to Muhimbili National Hospital, where I went through an operation and, later, physiotherapy. It took about 9 months for my full recovery. At just over five years of age, I joined the Salvation Army primary school in Dar es Salaam, one of the best primary schools in town,  where I completed standard seven. The school was for both disabled and non-disabled people. I continued with my secondary education in Kilimanjaro region, and later took my first degree at an American Universtity.
Polio affects people in different ways: physically, psychologically, and socially. Those who get polio come from different home environments, go to different institutions for treatment and receive different treatments. They also have different educational and social opportunities and experiences. In my case, I never had a vaccination, nor was I able to be treated in Iringa where I was born. I had to be transferred to Muhimbili Hospital, where not only was I treated and recovered fully but had to learn to walk differently with calipers and the use of crutches.
As a polio survivor, I describe myself as a “doer”. I spend a lot of time taking care of others – family and friends. I realise that challenges are inescapable and must be faced,  and people with disabilities are not an exception. Since people with disabilities live in a world designed primarily for the able-bodied, I share the experience of negavite attitudes like other people with disabilities. I consider myself fortunate, however, to have people around me who encourage me not only to study, but also to aspire for good things in my life within reach: things I can do that others might even envy. I vividly remember I learned well the skill of playing the trumpet at primary school, and others admired me for that.
I will never forget when I was in courtship with my now dear wife, Tinah: a time when I realised how society viewed me as a person with disability.  The community did not recognise my right to marry and have family of my own, and even my wife’s family and many friends did not accept it. My wife went through a really hard time: she was considered crazy for loving me. Comments like “how will she take care of me”, to “kids born in your family will also have a disability” were openly expressed to her, yet she stuck with me. Luckly, I had support from her mother but, despite all effort to make them understand, some of our relatives did not attend the wedding. I wanted all the wedding activies to end and take my wife on honeymoon. Now, we have two lovely, handsome boys.
As a person with disability I have experienced other challenges in the community by being considered as an object of poverty to be given hand outs and being rejected at interview panels because of my disability. I realise the main challenge is for me and others to tirelessly make the community aware of disability rights and what disability means. Parents who have raised children with disabilities well, like mine, must educate the surrounding community.
To some extent, I consider myself as a religious person, a Christian believer, mainly due to how I was raised and the people who were my role models in my up bringing. Early on, I remember I met one foreign Roman Catholic Padre, who really shed some light on my name. He told me that Saint Vincent used to help others a lot, and that I could do this one day by embracing the name. I haven’t reached there yet: I don’t have many resources to help others, but I am trying to help with the little I have.
To some extent, I have reached some of my dreams by being able to help others find a job here at Radar Development. It is very challenging work. It is hard to find work for the able-bodied and worse still for people with disabilities. I believe that if you want to help a person with disability, give him/her work to do. What we have accomplished at Radar so far is just a tip of an iceberg. I plead to the government as supposedly the biggest employer to tap the forgotten potential workforce of persons with disabilities in Tanzania.
My advice to the community is that they take a positive approach to disability, as the product of a social environment that is not willing to adapt to the potential of individuals.  People with disabilities need to be included, placed in the midst of society through schooling, work, and personal growth. I urge society to adapt to the diversity of persons with disabilities, recognising that the disadvantages faced by these persons depend on the discrimination to which they are subjected.
I thank the government for introducing a piece of legislation called the Persons with Disabilities Act, 2010, signed already by the President. And for being willingly able to sign and eventually ratify UNCRPD.
I conclude by pleading to the disability community to unite and not despair. We have long way to go, and so many challenges ahead of us. Employment is a serious problem in our country. Should we give up? Definitely, NO! I urge those in the forefront to help advocate strongly for the employment of persons with disabilities in Tanzania.
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