CHAMBO NG’UNI, Nakonde
WITH ease, Amade Siame meticulously pushes a needle in a 50kg bag of maize.
He is with other people who are performing the same task at Mukunga satellite depot, one of the buying points for the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) in Nakonde which was established this year.
The grain bags have to be weighed before Amade and his colleagues seal them in a standard fashion.
Sometimes the farmers chat as they work, other times they work quietly to concentrate on their work.
Occasionally, the grain traders turn their heads in the direction of the Great North Road to look at vehicles zooming past their depot, which is about 20 metres from the highway.
During this author’s visit to the depot, Amade was the only worker without limbs, but he was quite mobile around the camp and noticeably good at his work.
Amade works as hard as any other worker, but both of his legs are crippled. He was born like that 24 years ago, but this has not deterred him from earning his bread. Obviously he can’t afford prosthetic limbs, neither a wheelchair. Therefore he has no choice but to walk on his knees, or alternatively crawl to move from one point to the other.
Amade, the second – born in a family of six, says life has not been easy for him because of his condition. Worse still, he did not complete primary education, so he had no option but to settle for a blue -collar job.
“My condition has affected my life. There was no one to sponsor me to school,” laments Amade of Mukunga village in Nawaitwika chiefdom in Nakonde.
He dropped out of school because his family could not afford to take him to a special school – there was none in his village, anyway. This meant that he had to walk on his knees to get to school.
However, Amade counts himself lucky to land a job of stitching grain bags at an FRA depot.
“I suffer a lot because of my condition. Things like finding food or wearing clothes are not easy at all,” Amade said.
He may not have limbs to walk on but he is differently abled – he is good at stitching grain bags and he does so with exceptional skill. This is what earned him a casual job at the FRA Mukunga depot in 2016. The stitching of grain bags is done to prepare them for transportation from selling points to FRA storage centres.
In a day, Amade is able to sew about 150 of 50kg bags of maize. For one bag, FRA pays him 35 Ngwee.
Levy Moyo, a depot clerk at Mukunga, says he treats Amade like any other causal worker. He says the man works hard in an attempt to sew up more bags and earn himself more money
Mr Moyo is happy with Amade’s performance as he has proved to be equal to the task.
“He is able to stitch between 100 and 150 bags,” he told FRA executive director Chola Kamfwabulula when he visited the depot.
Amade’s love for his job shows from the distance he covers to go for work – 1.5 km wading on his knees.
Occasionally, some people ferry him on a bicycle to relieve of him the pressure of pushing his way on a gravel road.
Edina Nawakwi has known Amade since he was a child and can attest that the task of earning a living is tough for the man because of his disability.
Ms Nawakwi said Amade needs a wheelchair and farm inputs to lead a better life.
“If he is given farm inputs, he can use them in his mother’s field,” Ms Nawakwi said.
She said the man has demonstrated hard work at the depot, a sign that he could do well in farming.
“I have been working with him, and have seen that he is good at doing this work. The FRA should hire him again in 2018 because he is one of the hard workers at the depot,” Ms Nawakwi said.
Mr Kafwabulula encouraged Amade to work hard, saying being disabled does not mean one is condemned to a miserable life.
“Be positive despite being disabled. Don’t look down on yourself,” Mr Kafwabulula said.
The FRA chief said he got disabled when he was four years old but he has worked hard to get where he is.
“I have achieved what I have achieved in this state. There is no need for self-pity or special treatment,” Mr Kafwabulula encouraged Amade.
He said a person needs self-discipline and hard work to succeed, irrespective of physical status.
Mr Kafwabulula said the disabled do not need special treatment to make it in life, but they rather need to be focused on what they want to achieve.
He said it is good that Amade is doing something for a living and the FRA is happy to engage him to sew up grain bags.
“As FRA, the only way we can help him is through what he is doing here,” he said.
The FRA chief said Amade needs a change of mindset to make the most of whatever help that might come his way.