One: My brother and I walk up the steps that lead to the entrance of our church. We get in and sit on a pew that has two people. When they see him and notice he’s not like any of them, they leave the seat and move somewhere else. No one else sits next to us because as soon as they see my brother, they proceed to another bench. So the two of us have a whole pew to ourselves. This has happened so many times.
Two: We are standing at the stop waiting for a taxi. For those reading my blog and aren’t in Uganda, we call those 14 seater minivans taxis over here. They are what we use for our public transport. We call what others call taxis speshos (as in specials/special hire vehicles) or cabs.
A taxi that has a number of empty seats drives to the stop. When the conductor sees my brother, he tells the driver to drive on.
Three: A little child, about four years of age, is so interested in playing with my brother. He’s making faces and laughing. He touching my brother’s trousers. My brother is smiling. They seem to have struck a friendship that working. The child’s mum sees my brother and she’s not amused. She grabs her child and leaves.
Four: I’m taking an evening stroll with my brother. Some idle men are standing by the side of the road. They make fun of us. They call my brother mad. They call him crazy and stupid. And their laughing. What can I do? Nothing. Because I’ve got to keep moving.
These are a few of the things my brother and I have gone through because of the way he is. See, my brother has severe Cerebral Palsy (CP). He’s got multiple disabilities as well. He got brain damage because of delayed birth. I interviewed my mum and wrote about what really happened here. I also wrote about him here. My brother drools a lot. He’s not able to perform most of the tasks that a regular person can do. Well, sometimes we think he’s just stubborn and doesn’t want to do them which isn’t true. The left part of his brain got hurt. The left side controls how you think and the logic you use in performing tasks. Part of his right brain works. He loves music. He’s unable to speak but he can walk. He’s able to walk because he underwent physiotherapy when he was a child. He’s unable to think like those of you reading this.
Most people don’t know what CP is. They have no idea what causes it. Many people attribute it to witchcraft and evil spirits. It isn’t. CP can be medically explained. In simple terms, damage to the brain is what causes CP.
It’s wrong to stigmatize people with CP. It’s wrong not to give them the basics to help them survive in life. Look, nature handed them a tough blow. We can’t just go around making them feel unwelcome. They didn’t sign up for it. Their parents didn’t ask for it. We won’t lose anything by being nice to people who are different from us.
Be nice. It won’t cost you a leg.