By Bayan Nalubwama
Light for the World Uganda in collaboration with Kyambogo University on Thursday March 10, witnessed the graduation of the first cohort of Certified Professional Personal Assistants to people with disabilities.
While addressing journalists at the event that was held at Kyambogo University, Silvester Kasozi, the country Director of Light for the World said Personal Assistants (PAs) are an integral part to the personal life of people with disabilities yet in Uganda; personal assistants tend to be their friends or family with limited knowledge of the extent of their role as PAs or their rights and entitlements.
“If a personal assistant is important to a person without disability then how more important would it be for a person with disability. I think that is why in particular it is important,” He said
“The challenge with the current system is multifaceted and affects users of these services, and providers of care alike. For users of personal assistant (PAs) services, professionalization is needed because PAs are often trusted with personal information, and there are currently no industry standards to ensure that service users are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve.” Silvester added.
In 2019, Light for the World Uganda ran the Disability Inclusion Challenge that aimed at triggering Individuals both with and without disabilities, NGOs, social enterprises, disability networks, Universities, and student groups to bring forward realistic and innovative solutions that stood a Chance at promoting inclusion and improving the lives of people with disabilities in Uganda.
The course came as an innovation challenge, a concept that was brought by Musa Mwambu one of the participants and also an employee for Light for the Word as disability inclusion advisor, to create a professional industry out of the Personal Assistant service, coupled with a university course and certification done by one of the most reputable universities in the country to address issues that concern PDWs.
Musa partnered with Kyambogo University to launch the certificate in Personal Assistant Services for Persons with Disabilities. The inaugural class was launched in March 2021, following the lifting of the lockdown restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic with 15 students.
Speaking at the inauguration, Musa revealed that he come across personal assistants who lacked the professionalism to provide people with disabilities high-quality support. Because they lack the profession Musa said there was risk of personal information leakage alleging that his account information was made public, there was no defensive guiding and this is exposing them to accidents.
There is more to it than just pushing a wheelchair or walking with a visually impaired person. I had also heard stories about the rights of assistants being violated and was concerned that they did not have access to information about their rights. That’s when I realized that developing a training program for personal assistants would professionalize the industry and would not only solve these challenges but would also provide an opportunity for caregivers and assistants of people with disabilities to develop skills that could lead to waged employment.” Musa said
According to Musa, the Persons with Disability are in charge of paying of paying the helpers and the charges range from UGX 10,000shs –UGX50,000.