Charles Byekwaso: 2015 Best International Student of Hadley School for the Blind

Oct 16, 2015 by

Charles Byekwaso

An Interview with Charles Byekwaso: 2015 Best International Student of Hadley School for the Blind

1) Charles, first of all tell the readers a bit about yourself, and where and when you were born?

My name is Charles Byekwaso and I was born on 28th July 1955 in a village called Kisembe, Buwekula County Mubende District, found in Central West of Uganda.

2) Secondly, during the turmoil of Idi Amin, you suffered a great loss. What exactly happened?

On Saturday 14th December 1978 at 8.30 am, as usual I had reported for duty at my station of ministry of Labour, Mubende district. Without any notice, we show a convoy of army trucks with many soldiers who were dressed in dirty and torn combat uniforms. I and many others at our office block stood outside to see what was happening. As the soldiers were moving away in big groups, some of them just run to us and pointed guns to us. They started firing bullets in the air and thereafter caught us. They started beating us brutally blaming us of opening the offices when for them they were suffering and dying at the frontline fighting the enemy and accused us of being the supporters of the enemy.

They killed many of my colleagues and for me I do not know how I survived because after two days, I found myself in the hospital with a swollen head and face. My eyes were bleeding blood and I could not see anything.

My duty station was in Mubende town but near the army barrack known as 3rdTigerBatarrion and was the right hand of Idi Amin. Whenever any war could break anywhere in the country, it was this barracks to send its soldiers first to the battle field, So during the time these soldiers caused to us problems, they were just running away from the battle field because they were defeated by the enemy!

3) Who and what helped you to recover?

After two days, I found myself in the hospital. I do not know how and who helped me to reach the hospital because I was unconscious and most likely in a coma. However, as our office was near the Police station, I suspect probably some policemen might have helped me take me to the hospital as even many people had run away from the town.

4) I understand you have taken several courses through Hadley, tell us about them.

In 2004, when I went to attend the Africa Forum for the Blind in South Africa, when I was moving around the many items that had been exhibited, I came across the stall for Hadley School for the Blind. I collected the Course Catalogue, studied it and found out that, all the courses were free of charge. When I came back to Kampala, I immediately decided to enroll for my first course in 2005. Since then, I have enrolled and successfully completed the following courses arranged in the order of its title and year when I enrolled for it:-

1. Small Business Management – completed on 29th March 2006,
2. Business Law 1 – completed on 21st February 2007,
3. Diabetes Towards Self-Management – completed on 19th January 2008,
4. Business Communications – completed on March 17th 2009,
5. Business fundamentals – completed on 21st October 2009,
6. Access Technology- Beginnings – completed on 2nd July 2009,
7. Word Processing – completed on 18th April 2010,
8. Screen Readers – Formatting Word Documents – completed on 7th December 2012,
9. Basic English Skills 1 – completed on 29th September 2013,
10. Internet Basics – completed on 22nd April 2014,
11. Self-help Groups – an introductory – completed on 22nd May 2014,
12. Self-help Groups (Advanced Topics) –completed on 13th February 2015.

I know nothing much would take place without the close guidance and advice by the Hadley Instructors. Walter Ashby who was my first instructor did a lot to start me off since I had had no ideas and experience of learning alone. My first time of reading and understanding the course materials was not easy as well as organizing and submitting assignments was also quite challenging. Good enough, I think I was also a bright student because I remember the Instructor during the course entitled Small Business Management thanked me for answering correctly one of the questions of one of the assignments that had been defeating many of his students. So I would rank Walter Ashby As my best Instructor only that, I do not know whether he is still working with Hadley School for the Blind.

5) What courses have been the most helpful?

Generally, before I decide to choose a particular course and enroll for it, I carefully examine its contents and how it will benefit me in my day to day work. In this regard I might say that, all the courses I have undertaken are important but Diabetes towards Self-management ranks number one among the rest. This is because in 2005, I was tested and diagnosed with diabetes. The information I acquired through this course inspired me to venture into other natural practices to explore more information that could enable me control the disease. The combination of the information from the course plus the information I gathered from the Herbal Medicine practitioners has enabled me to safely live up to day. Special thanks to Naomi Tuttle who was my instructor for this course.My life is now good and I feel no more diabetes pains.

Another course that has shaped my social behaviors is the Business Communications. Through this course, I learnt many skills which have made me always the best contributors in various meetings and conferences. Because of applying the skills provided in the course, I always receive many invitations to various meetings and at times, I am always asked to chair those meetings. Special thanks to Amy Salmon who was my instructor for this course. While Access Technology – Beginnings, Word Processing, formatting word documents, screen readers Course, formatting word documents and Internet Basics have made me a consultant for blind and visually impaired adapted technology users Apart from having the desire of improving my knowledge as well as upgrading my education status, the other reason of me enrolling to Hadley school for the Blind Courses was to test myself whether I could be able to use Braille literacy skills to do courses. As regards this issue, I wish to inform the readers of this message that, during my first two courses, I experienced some challenges of writing my notes in Braille and typing them on the computer. I could write my notes in Braille and then dictate my Guide who could type them. Unfortunately, my Guide had very limited keyboard skills, so he could spend a lot of time to complete my work. I started practicing slowly reading my Braille notes and typing them on the computer. Many times I could just get lost between some Braille lines! However, as practice makes perfect, I can now perfectly prepare my notes in Braille and is also perfectly able to type them on the computer. I am an expert in the keyboard skills, but the challenge was reading braille notes and typing the same on the computer. In short, I feel I achieved my objectives of enrolling to the Hadley School for the Blind Distance Learning Courses.

6) What are you working on and doing?

On 2nd October 2015 I submitted the final assignment of the Health Course to my Instructor Debra Good and now waiting for the final assessment and grading. At the same time, I am also doing a course entitled Personality Psychology and have so far submitted one assignment where I secured 86 marks.

7) What have I neglected to ask you?

You have not asked me about my marital status. For that matter, I am married and have seven children who include four girls and three boys. Our last son is a second year student at Kyambogo University pursuing a course of Vocation and technical studies with education.

You also forgot to ask me about my hobbies. I love listening to educative radio programs and music. I also love reading newspapers.

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