Disabled Mechanic Rides 10 Kilometres to Work

Written by: 
Rinah Atuheire


A 38-year-old man with physical disabilities rides for seven kilometres to Soroti town daily to work as a bicycle mechanic.

 Julius Odongo has been riding a wheelchair to work for the past 10 years and it is partly from this job that he earns money to take care of his wife and six children.

"I have some work I do especially digging and bicycle repairing and I have now taken 10 years. It has so far helped me to sustain my life," says Odongo.

Odongo, a secondary school dropout, says he has no hope of getting another job because he doesn't have enough academic qualifications to compete for a formal job. Odongo says he dropped out of school because he was unable to pay his school fees so he had to find ways to earn a living. He opted for bicycle repair, a job he has been at for over 10 years.

Odongo says he has created a good relationship with a number of people in Soroti town who just look for him because of his expertise.

Francis Ekinu, a resident in Soroti town speaks kindly of Odongo. "He has a Christian heart and can help you on credit in case you don't have money at that particular moment. He is a very good man and he is also good at what he does. That's why I can never get another mechanic." Ekinu is one of Odongo's many customers. He never repairs his bicycle from elsewhere but at Odongo's.

On a good day, Odongo says he can make 15,000 Ugandan Shillings. But this cannot take care of all the needs of the family, especially his children’s education.

"I request the government, if it is possible, to take care of my children's school fees," says Odongo.

Denis Okurut, a customer of Odongo says that there are very many other people like Odongo who are working hard but, because of their physical state, may need support from government.

Godfrey Okello, a resident in Soroti adds on to say that four out of twenty five Ugandans are disabled and there are some who are even worse than Odongo. All these people are struggling and working hard to survive. According to the 2014 Population and Housing Census, people living with disabilities constitute 13 per cent of the population.

Okello continues to say that women and men with disabilities can and want to be productive members of the society and they struggle to earn a living. They face many challenges which include difficulties in being deceived and being cheated among others.