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Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Guest post from Hugh O'Donnell MSP in Kampala, Uganda on VSO’s new Scottish Parliament Volunteering Scheme

Well here I am ready to start the VSO placement in Kampala at the end of a remarkable 24 hours non stop!

The Pearl of Africa, Uganda is stunning, a place of urban sprawl contrasted with the silvery blue of lake Victoria, tribal huts side by side with high rise businesses in glass and steel.

The one constant so far is the relentless cheerfulness of the people - it's true a happy disposition can and does make all things seem possible.

As I climb under the mosquito net to sleep I wonder what my first encounter with the disability organisations will bring - to say nothing of my protocol visit to the British High Commission.

Tomorrow is indeed another day.

Hugh O’Donnell, Liberal Democrat MSP for Central Scotland is the first MSP to volunteer in VSO’s new Scottish Parliament Volunteering Scheme. Mr O’Donnell will spend ten days helping the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) which lobbies for the rights of people with disabilities.

Disabled rights is an area Mr O’Donnell has a real active interest in, after working for 15 years with adults with learning disabilities.

Mr O’Donnell will be using his skills and passion to make a difference in this area by reviewing NUDIPU’s advocacy strategy, supporting the organisation in targeting the electoral commission to secure representation for Ugandans with disabilities in addition to planning and delivering a workshop with NUDIPU for a group of disabled peoples’ organisations on joint advocacy.

One in ten Ugandans has a disability and it’s estimated that over 1.4 million of these people are children under 16 years old. One of VSO’s main aims for its disability programme in Uganda is to build the capacity of disabled peoples’ organisations to engage and advocate more effectively with policymakers and organisations that deliver basic services.

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