He Made Me Believe I Was Also a Person

by Kupenda

A young man and an adult man seated beside each other, laughing.


George with Kupenda’s Founder, Cynthia

George is one of Kupenda’s program graduate who regularly co-facilitates Kupenda Disability Trainings. During these sessions he also gives his testimony to help our pastor, traditional healer, parent and government leader trainees understand the importance of supporting early intervention and loving inclusion for children with disabilities in their communities. We hope you’ll enjoy reading his testimony here.

I was born with a disability. After I was born, I didn’t cry for 3 hours. As I was growing, I did see myself as normal but those who were my same age or older – they did not see me as a normal person. Some did not allow me to play with them. As any child would — I felt bad. I loved to play with other kids but they didn’t want to play with me. I wasn’t happy when people were running away from me because that is the only thing that made me discover I had a disability.

George at a Kupenda Disability Training

The community generally did not accept me. Some people ran away when I came near them. Others would imitate how I walk. This really hurt me.

The community gave me 2 names: The first was simply “drunkard” and the other was a name that means someone used me in a traditional ritual to make money for themselves while leaving me with a disability. Because of my walking style, they thought I was always drunk.

But one thing that helped me overcome was that I come from a place called Mashasheni. The school in my community did not have a special school or unit where children like me could receive an education so I had to learn in a mainstream school. Kids would laugh at me and beat me because they knew I would do nothing in return. That is when my parents thought it best to take me to Gede Special School. At this school, I met a group of pastors who used to come to the school to take the students to a neighboring church.

Going to church encouraged me a lot and made me think,

George preparing for a training

“I am a person like anyone else.” Reverand Mangi really encouraged me too. He used to sing with me in church and show me love.

We used to sing together. Pastor Mangi, he loved me. My teacher, Leonard Mbonani, and most of the teachers at Gede also showed me a lot of love. Leonard was the one who called pastors – by doing their different activities the pastors surrounded me with their teachings.

I was able to complete my primary and secondary education and join a computer college through Kuhenza’s support. Now I can do anything like any other person.

Leonard said, ‘When we educate this boy, he will become a very important person…’ So he encouraged me and made me believe I was also a person.

George facilitating a Kupenda Disability Training

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