Lydia is a disability rights activist working in international development in Jinja, Uganda. She believes kitchen gardens can support young disabled people to overcome discrimination and have an independent income.
Activism in action.
“Being a person with a disability I’m enthusiastic about seeing that we are treated right, go to school, and are treated like any other human being. Many people think that people like me can’t do or have the things others do.
I don’t want to pity myself. When I can do something I go for it. That is the reason I’m a farmer.
I have some sacks for a garden. I can reach them easily and where I need help I ask. I grow for eating. I find it interesting and it saves money to grow your own.
Covid was tough. I ran out of money. Then food ran out. So I concentrated on my garden. I was stressed and I needed to see green. That’s when I planted so many peas. For two reasons, one, I wanted to see green, and I wanted to eat peas. My favourite meal is matooke and peas and I like my food with a lot of onions so I grow onions and tomatoes too. In that time we were also advised to eat a lot of fruit and vegetables to stay healthy so my garden helped me do that.
I realised that some of the waste we throw away can actually be used in the garden. Things like tomato ends, onion ends, can be mixed with soil to support the garden.
Some people think they can’t grow because they are renting, but during covid I grew onions in tins. People think they can’t farm because they don’t have land, but there are other ways.
Cultivating Homegrown Leaders.
“When you look at development and culture, these things go together. A lot of ideas that come from outside the community are really difficult to sustain. But if something is from within here it will be very easy to sustain. Because it will be something where people will feel free, they do it with ease.
There is a lot of strength when you are working collectively, than when you’re alone. It’s not easy for your voice to be heard when you’re one.
I have faced discrimination. When people look at someone with a disability the first reaction is negative. Personally what I’ve experienced, when you go somewhere, say you have gone for a job opportunity, and you appear in a wheelchair, you’ll see it in their eyes, you’ll see them judging. But after they interact with you, they say, we thought otherwise.
Most of our facilities here are inaccessible. So sometimes you want to go somewhere but even the environment is discriminating against you! You can’t get in. It is changing, but the change is slow.
I want to be a farmer who can even sell to the neighbours. That is my hope for the future.”
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Find out more about the 100% Homegrown project.