He might not have used the actual words, but Gloria Depayo knew what her father meant to say. When her father said there was no tuition for her, she knew why. She had watched him choose her siblings over her time and again. Depayo, a teenager with a hearing impairment has faced rejection. If she wasn’t called deaf to her face, then she was witnessing the world be dismissive of her capabilities. It hurt!
“My father has continued paying tuition for the rest of my siblings but abandoned me,” she painfully signs off as Moses interprets. “I feel very bad about that.” When her mother, a subsistence farmer, begged her father to do better, he brushed her off. The 19-year-old who hails from Kochi Village in Koboko District said that it got worse when her elder sister, who paid her tuition, died of goiter in 2012. Upon sitting her Primary Leaving Examinations, her father said he was done.
In 2018, Depayo started taking on odd jobs and saving money; she then hired an acre of land, grew cassava and groundnuts. She did this for three years until she thought she had enough money. “I gave the money to my father, but he still refused to take me back to school,” she tears up while narrating. “If I sum it up, it is up to one million shillings, and he has refused to give it back to me.” The pain of this narration drains her; she takes a break while fighting back tears. Soon, however, the topic was changed, and Depayo suddenly got cheery.
“One day the sign language interpreter Moses told me about a skills training from Windle International Uganda,” she recalls. “I thought I was going to pay some money for the training, so I feared to even apply.” She took 20 days to think about it until it was confirmed that it was free. “They said that Windle International Uganda was catering for everything, all I had to do was be here,” she elatedly narrates. Moses was talking about the Skills for Employment Project (SEP) being implemented by Windle International Uganda with support from the European Union.
Depayo had always hoped to do a hands-on-training and master the beauty industry. When she first arrived at the training centre in Koboko town, she was disappointed because she had been given a crafts course instead of cosmetology. Little did she know that on day one, she would fall in love with it.
“I have learnt so much from this course. I have even started raising some money,” she says. “I started the course four days ago, but so far I have raised profit of Ugx30,000, can you imagine?” She cheerfully asks.
She says her goal is to modernize the ladies’ bags she has been seeing and attract a high-end market. “I sell the big bags between Ugx20000-25000,” she boasts. “It’s okay now, I love crafts.”
Once she has established her business, Depayo says that she will help other children in the community. “I want to establish my own vocational institute,” she says passionately. “I want to help family, neighbors and friends.” Just like that, the sad story is awash with hope. “Thank you so much Windle International Uganda!” she says.