Fred Batale was born in Mayuge district, Uganda. At the age of five, he became physically disabled. To this day, none of his family members are aware of the cause.
Fred struggled in school. He crawled on his knees every morning to learn, but the distance between school and home was unbearable. His mother often carried him on her back to ease the burden of the journey. She became Fred’s greatest influence in life. A compassionate woman, she treats every person with a disability as her own son or daughter.
Fred’s mother always taught Fred to love others. Reflecting on his childhood, Fred says that communities were not doing enough to support people with disabilities. His mother was always there for him, and served as his inspiration. So he began reciprocating by creating avenues through which he could provide care and support for others.
Fred persisted in school despite the physical challenges, and eventually had a chance to extend his education when he secured a university scholarship. Despite education being a universal human right, not every person – let alone every disabled person – receives the opportunity to advance his or her knowledge through formal studies. Fred knew he had to be the change he wanted to see in the lives of his fellow disabled people. He lived with them on the streets and brought joy to their lives through storytelling. They loved these gatherings and could not stop coming. They felt welcome and loved.
The conversations began with three people, but the number just kept growing and growing. Fred knew he could not just let them share experiences and leave it at that. Capitalizing on the skills in art and design that he had learned at university, he started training them in printing. They became excited and brought friends and families with disabilities and developed more and more activities. As the numbers grew, they titled themselves, “Disability Art Project Uganda.”
Fred is inspired by his own life journey because he can confidently tell you he has succeeded. People with disabilities have amazing talents. These people can create and execute ideas while working together. He is inspired by “Bombolulu,” a Mombasa group doing similar work. His vision is to empower people with disabilities to have an innovative attitude. He wants to accentuate their creativity and self-confidence.
Passing on skills and knowledge that allow people to empower themselves has always been Fred’s area of interest. It is for this reason that he hopes to share his knowledge of working with disabilities groups and art groups and to influence how local policies and systems work. As a Pollination Project hub member, Fred hopes to develop his project management skills, and continue to advocate for people with disabilities in Uganda. His hope is that the hub should provide a learning space where fellows can learn and witness the impact of empowering grassroots changemakers by finding and supporting the ideas generated from within our communities.