Despite the conclusions of the community about her inability to speak well and associate in public due to low self-esteem; Aguti Sarah overcame the challenge to excel in her leadership position of Local Counselor 3 for persons with disabilities in her sub-county.
Aguti Sarah is 25 years of age, single and lives with her biological parents in Abata village, Ochocha parish, Ogolai sub-county in Amuria district. Born with a physical disability and from a family of low economic status, Sarah was able to gain both primary and lower secondary level education until the financial challenges of her family put a stop to her education.
Faced with the inability to continue with her education, Sarah accepted her fate, stayed home with her parents and waited for the next step in her life. Her immediate option was to join the family in farming but due to her level of education and awareness of the community’s problems, Sarah took a chance on elective politics and with her family’s support contested for the position of Local Counselor 3. She emerged as the winner in May 2022.
Winning would be a cause for jubilation but for Sarah, it was a cause for worry as she wondered how she would execute her duties with her low self-esteem then. “People in my community had started concluding that I am not capable of talking. They thought I was not going to do a lot for the people that entrusted me with the leadership position.”
This became history once Sarah became a beneficiary of the AWESOME project. She visualized it as a great opportunity to enhance her social and public speaking skills. Since joining, Sarah testifies that her self-esteem and confidence have lifted and she is now leading her people with advanced knowledge of leadership and leadership skills. “AWESOME project came at the right time. I have used the braveness to lobby for persons with disabilities in my 3 groups. One of my groups with 12 members (5 males and 7 females) received goats from the sub-county because of my efforts”.
When she heard of the opportunity, she mobilized the members of the group to collect and present all the requirements needed and submitted to the sub-county community development department. Her first successful attempt at lobbying has motivated her and she is continuing to search for opportunities for the betterment of persons with disabilities. In the pipeline to receive financial assistance in the next financial year are more than 10 women with disabilities of Achelasi Ajasi group, and a girl with mobility challenges she introduced to the Community Development Officer whose proposal for the procurement of the required assistive device has been submitted.
Currently, Sarah holds meetings and talks to people without fear like before and speaks when invited to other forums. This change in Sarah and the demonstration of great leadership has made the community withdraw their earlier perceptions towards her. She attributes all her success to the project which improved her communication and leadership skills and built her confidence. In her period of leadership as the Local Counsellor 3, Sarah hopes to leave a legacy in the sub-county as the most hardworking counselor by supporting and linking women and girls with disabilities to available opportunities for their transformation.