A life of endless pain: How a road accident shattered Kangume’s dreams

Charlotte Kangume, 28, vividly remembers the night of January 26, 2018 like it happened yesterday.

She was involved in a road accident when she was coming from a graduation party to drop a friend to her house.

“I was intoxicated that night and even a friend who was driving was also drunk. I blame my accident on two things, alcohol and also the government being reckless with our lives by not doing enough to improve the state of our roads,” Kangume recounted.

 Kangume was rushed to the hospital in a terrible condition, a situation that she never wishes to see any Ugandan get into.

Kangume said she was shocked when the doctor told her that she was going to have a limb amputated.

It was one of the painful moments ever for her and her family, they were against the medical advice.

In order to save Kangume’s life, she had to lose her left leg because that was the only solution according to her doctors.

“My first artificial leg cost me Shs 16 million and I raised it [money] for two years from friends, family and then the socket got broken. I had to go to Mulago hospital and get another socket,” she said.

Since then, things have never been easy for Kangume’s family because the situation sometimes puts them on tension, thinking that perhaps she might commit suicide due to difficulties she faces in carrying out day to day activities

“I got an emotional trauma, one moment, I can wake up when I don’t want to see anyone, so I just lock myself in the room and that affects not only me but also my family,” she said.

“There are certain things that I can no longer do like the way I used to do them.”

Like other persons with disabilities, Kangume faces difficulties ranging from access to basic items from down town Kampala, stigmatisation from the members of the public, access to transport means, cost of treatment and challenges of getting a job.

“One of my friends went to board a taxi and she was told by the driver ‘we don’t carry lame people like you’. You can imagine how painful the statement was, and yet this is the only transport mean you can afford. Why do we have to use stigmatising words?” she queried.

As festive season draws near, she advised young people never to drive a car under the influence of alcohol because any slight mistake will lead to death or loss of a body part.

“We really need people to take care of their themselves and their neighbours. We need to be strict with our lives and other people lives. Don’t drink and drive,” she said.

Kangume is the founder of Amputee Self-Help Network Uganda, a non-profit organisation, that helps people who have gone through similar experience.

Through her organisation, Kangume hopes to help road crash victims to cope up with the aftermath of road crashes by giving these amputees psychosocial rehabilitation.

“We realised that in our hospitals out there, they treat and send you back home but they don’t prepare you for what kind of life you are going to live, what to expect and what to do, how to survive,”she stated.

Together with friends, she started the prosthetic accessibility funds which is meant to help amputees who cannot afford prosthetics [artificial limbs].

“We would love to be supported, we would really want the government to help us get complements from donors outside Uganda and they should be tax free,” she said.

Reports spanning from 2018 to 2020 indicates that 3,744 people died in vehicle crashes within that period.

Everyday, 10 people on average die in road traffic crashes in Uganda, which is the highest in East Africa, according to police and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s Road Safety Performance Review report for Uganda.

Whereas those involved in the road accidents are usually young people whose lives and dreams are suddenly cut short, thousands including Kangume are left with life-changing injuries, pain, regrets and some become destitute. This is why Kangume’s organization is so important.

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