A victim of rape and an amputation, Mujuni refuses to be broken
The Baganda have a saying, ‘ebizibu tebimanyi nyumba mbi’ to mean ‘troubles will still arise in a troubled home.’ That was the case with Charlotte Kangume Mujuni who had just endured an ordeal of rape before being involved in fatal accident a few months later.
Her life had been altered by the men that had intruded her privacy one fateful night. As she was making a turn, healing from the pain of being betrayed by an insider yet thanking God that she had not contracted HIV or got pregnant, an evening out with friends gave her yet another alteration.
When their car got stuck in a trench, the efforts to get it out required that the designated driver tries to drive out. However, the driver over accelerated that the car leapt and rammed into Mujuni who was standing nearby. She was rushed to Like Link Hospital in Namugongo where an X-ray showed that she had suffered internal bleeding.
Thereafter, Mujuni was referred to China-Uganda Friendship Hospital in Naguru for further examination. Owing to a fractured bone seen, Mujuni’s left leg was operated on, given metal plates to hold the bone in place and a walking aid. For some time, it worked well. However, her worry was far from over because the cut behind her knee continued bleeding. Moreover, her toes were turning black. Returning to Naguru, three more surgeries were done to reconnect the veins with the hope of restoring life to her left leg. However, that did not happen. The doctors then told Mujuni that she had developed compartment syndrome where pressure builds in a muscle to the point where blood stops flowing to certain body tissue.
It was this that had caused her left leg to suffer dry gangrene, which was characterised by dry skin and black toes. Unfortunately, at this point, there was no solution save for amputating the leg.
“I could not believe that I would have to leave the rest of my life with one leg but a decision had to be made fast. Otherwise, toxins would spread to other body parts which would cause further serious complications. On February 8, 2018, I agreed to a surgery to amputate the lower left leg.”
For many, such a decision would have led to a downward spiral of life. However, Mujuni saw this as another chance to live again. With that mind set, she made the necessary lifestyle changes. For example, while she had previously loved partying, taking alcohol and having a good time with friends, Mujuni stopped taking alcohol.
“My focus is now geared towards helping people have a better understanding of sexual assault and disability. That is coupled with living a better life. I also promised God that I would try my best to be a better person if He helped me through the ordeal of losing my leg. Thus far, He has helped me and I am doing my best to keep the promise.”
Mujuni is one that is not given to clinging to bad experiences and this has greatly enabled her not to make a pity party of these life altering events.
At some point, her focus was on learning how to use her prosthetics and today, she has learned. “I walk amazingly well and in due time, I feel I will have perfect gait. And yes, I am not letting it stop me from being a trend setter among my peers and the disability community. Rather than wear trousers, I leave my prosthetic open which has encouraged most people I meet to learn more about amputation. They have also come to appreciate that although I have one leg, I am not different from them.”
On April 6, 2017, Mujuni was also one of the models recognized by Malengo Foundation, a youth-led organisation that works towards the social inclusion of persons with disabilities. Under the Girl 50-50 Forum, Mujuni was one of those recognised under the ‘Make it Happen Honouree’ accolade for her resilience and faith for not allowing tribulations define her life.
“This show showed me that I can be more if I want to and societal myths and beliefs of disability should not hold me back in anyway. I also learned that I cannot change everyone’s mind set of disability but a few steps to that change can make a big difference. My confidence is way up there; I do not think anyone can put me down in any way for being an amputee.”
In order to raise awareness of people living with disabilities, Mujuni is also the co-founder of the Amputee Support Network Uganda (ASNU), aimed at rendering psychosocial support and empowerment as well as advocacy for those that have undergone amputation.
“Freely walking with a prosthetic limb has also given courage to other young amputees to live without fear of judgement. This is one of ASNU’s goals because the entire team is out there showing people that stigma is overrated, and this is who we are. The message is that, ‘given opportunity, we are no different from others.’ We are proud of who we are and what we keep achieving each day regardless of our losses.”
Great things only, I should say, in all aspects. Just watch this space.