Name: Alfred Okello
Family: Wife, Hellen and their five children
Project: A skill-training-center for blind high-school-students with special focus on agriculture and bee keeping
Hobbies: Music and dancing
Role model: My uncle (He took care of me when I was young and taught me basically everything)
In 1986 when I was six months old, my father was killed. I come from Amuru district, in Northern Uganda, a region that suffered 20 years of brutal civil war. The rebels came and abducted most men of our village, among those my father. They were forced to march day and night. Some could escape but my father was shot because he broke down in exhaustion.
When I was two, the rebels came again. My oldest brother saved me but my mother was caught and beaten to death.
At the age of 16, I was the one who was abducted. I was taken to the bush where we were forced to steal food from villages, always guarded by child-soldiers with guns. During one night, when we tried to storm a village, I was shot in my arm. There was no doctor or medical care, the injury had to heal by itself or I would die. Despite us being heavily guarded, I managed to escape while fetching water. I had asked my guard to ease myself and then I fled.
During the war, all villagers were transferred to camps for internally displaced persons. There I met Hellen who became my wife, and soon we had our first daughter. Around this time I became fully blind. I am a trained Motor vehicle mechanic, but no one was willing to employ a blind man. I had no perspectives for my life.
At the end of the war, some people wanted to return to their homes. One of my brothers took me to our village, far away in the wilderness. We constructed a new hut to live in. But then I heard how my sister in law tried to convince my brother to move back to the camp and leave me behind. “Otherwise we are forced to take care of him for the rest of our lives.” she had mentioned and so they left me there to die. Luckily a man found me and informed my wife. It was heavily raining when my wife came all the way, carrying our daughter on her back to rescue me.
One day I met the founder of Seaford, an Organization that gives partial scholarships to orphans. I told him my wish to study again. He agreed to pay half of my school fee for an inclusive secondary school. However, I had to quit because despite the half stipend I was not able to fend for the rest.
Later Ojok Simon from Hive Uganda limited contacted me. Ojok, a kanthari graduate, is partially sighted. He runs a honey cooperative, training blind people in bee keeping, agriculture and environmental sustainability. I learned with great interest and developed my own dream: a skill-training-center for blind high-school-students with special focus on agriculture and bee keeping. I call my dream Otet. In Luo-language this means “fire fly”. Just like the fire fly, which glows in the dark, my blind students will bring a spark into a society that still lives within the darkness of it’s past.