Patrick Opwonya left his mother’s womb with a well-functioning eyesight like any other normal baby, unfortunately, this was short-lived .Patrick who was a security guard working with the American refugee committee in Gulu started to loose his normal sight slowly at a young age .Opwonya decided to go for an eye check up and he was advised to go for surgery but instead this worsened the condition.
With out any sign of improvement the doctors opted for another surgery on the second eye, a desperate Opwonya consented to the decision of the medics as his last resort.
Unfortunately, this too did not save anything and Opwonya now totally blind was told that there was almost nothing that could cure this disease very eccentric to his ears called Glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to your eye’s optic nerve and gets worse over time. It’s often linked to a buildup of pressure inside your eye. The most common type of glaucoma (open-angle glaucoma) often has no symptoms other than slow vision loss. Angle-closure glaucoma, although rare, is a medical emergency and its symptoms include eye pain with nausea and sudden visual disturbance.
Mr. Patrick was retired by his former employer because he could not perform to the company’s expectation especially in activities like writing reports and regular monitoring and evaluation of the security of the institution.
“You can imagine someone who is sick without employment, it was very difficult for me especially making ends meet for my family. I decided to process for my NSSF benefits, however, I was very skeptical if I was going to successfully get the money,” Patrick said.
This procedure started in 2012 and as someone who was not yet 60 years old, Patrick had to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he was worthy for the benefits. Luckily enough, NSSF through its Invalidity benefits, Patrick was able to successfully acquire his UGX2.9M of benefits.
Invalidity Benefits are paid to a member who has lost his/her earning capacity and has physical or mental incapacity, as verified by the NSSF Doctor. The qualifying condition for this benefit is that a claimant must produce certified medical documents from a qualified Medical Doctor as well as prove that he/she has lost the earning capacity. Patrick bought two oxen with ox-ploughs, one cow and used the rest of the money to start bee keeping.
“NSSF has indeed made my life better, I used to not have food in my house but that’s a foregone conclusion, my children are going to school like others and my returns from my investments are promising,” Patrick said.
Patrick who was about to commit suicide is now earning much from his bee farming business especially the honey products such as honey, wax and propolis courtesy of NSSF benefits. Patrick gives all the credit to his wife because she was there when he needed her most and she has done most of the work especially honey harvesting, distribution and selling of their products.
Like any other business, challenges are inevitable Patrick’s bee keeping is constantly attacked by wasps and other insects that end up scaring away bees from the bee hives. This reduces the returns and frustrates the business.
His future plan is to be one of the main bee keepers in the Northern region and Uganda at large. He hopes to win the prize money and use it to increase his bee hives from 40 to over 1000 bee hives.
Mr. Patrick continues to re-affirm the famous saying that disability is not inability and assures all the disabled people in all corners of this country that they can do anything no matter what they are going through. He requests all those who have relatives that are physically incapacitated not to ignore them because if supported, they can be as significant as the normal people or even better.
“For those that are still skeptical about saving with NSSF should at least learn from my story, my sight was affected by Glaucoma, I barely could do anything but my little savings from NSSF enabled me to make ends meet in my family, indeed NSSF makes life better,” Patrick said.
Patrick concludes by thanking his wife for being stronghearted and faithful to him amidst all the shortcomings they have been through especially the strange eye sickness that frustrated Opwonya’s employment life.