Seventeen amazing children from Kisoro Demo School, Uganda, won first place for the special needs groups in the East African Scout Competition held in Kenya this past December. Eight deaf and eight blind children and one disabled student from the school participated in the event which saw participants from Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. The participation of the children in the event was made possible through our friends at UK based charity SEDCU and Sustain for Life, through the generous support of Masikini Foundation.
The East African Scout Competition is an annual event held with the aim of promoting interaction and shared learning among the scouts as well as promoting integration among people of the East Africa Community. Children from Kisoro Demo School became district and Uganda national champions earlier in 2015 and nothing could stop them from achieving their goal to attend the competition in Kenya, despite their challenges.
According to their teachers, the journey of leading children with disabilities over 1100 km to an international competition has not been an easy task and required total commitment by Kisoro Demo’s head teacher, Gerald Nkurikiyimana, for them to succeed. “At first, I thought preparing the special needs pupils for scouting competitions was just a dream but now here we are crowned as East African champions”, says Gerald happily. “I was motivated by their willingness and commitment to learn scouting activities and wanted to expose them to scouting competitions so that they can interact with other scouts, irrespective of their disabilities”, he added.
The winning group of special needs scouts spend most of their free time at school exercising and perfecting their skills in scouting activities. They hope to meet other international groups to sharpen their skills further and are very proud of their achievements in Kenya. Wilson, a high-achieving blind boy from Kisoro Demo who is sponsored by SEDCU commented, “We will use our skills acquired in scouting to help the other disabled groups feel part of society despite their disabilities”. He further said that when he sees people whose doors have not been knocked by scouting, he silently mourns. Wilson received a prize from one of the assessors at the competition because of his outstanding performance and one day hopes to be a lawyer.
Musinguzi Wenceslaus who is the District Executive Commissioner for Scouts in Kisoro as well as the National Youth Programme Commissioner at Uganda Scouts Association said that the performance of children from Kisoro Demonstration School has motivated other teams to join the competitions. He advises parents of disabled children never to lament their children’s limitations and cites that Kisoro Demo’s group is the first team in the district to represent Uganda in the East Africa zonal competition. “In fact, this victory has helped scouting to regain its glory, particularly in Kisoro, and in Uganda as a whole”, he joyfully added.