Opposite Mustard Seed Supermarket in Nansana, a suburb outside Kampala Uganda is a crowd gathered at a carpentry workshop. There, 48-year-old Mulangira Kimera, who, despite his legs having been crippled by malaria in his infancy is doing incredible work. Unlike his colleagues, he crawls on his knees.
“My father Petero Mwebe was a carpenter in Kiweesa, Masaka District. As soon as I fell ill, he told my mother that he could not afford hospital care, “By god’s grace, I managed to recover but could not stand on paralysed legs. For this reason, my father felt it worthless to take me to school.”
However he was determined to learn campentry,It is then that he chose to learn carpentry and joinery like his father.
“My father learnt of my interest in carpentry and equipped me with skills. At 15, I had acquainted myself with all skills,” Kimera says.
Gradually, he started making his own furniture and earning some money. Kimera worked with his father for five years before going solo.
In 1990, Dr Peter Kiwanuka, a family friend and then a doctor at Mulago Hospital, gave Kimera a contract to fit his house doors in Nansana. The same doctor housed Kimera. The latter started looking for space, where he could establish his business
He started small with Shs100,000 of his savings. The cliente-base was small but he managed to win over more numbers as people got to know him as trustworthy.
“On my arrival in Nansana, I committed to working and winning clients’ trust. Anyone that placed an order always got their products in time at a fair fee. Many clients told their friends about me and thus my objective was achieved,” says Kimera.
Before long, Kimera had to call in his young brother from the village to help out at the workplace. His job was to help with lifting heavy pieces of wood. His superb work skills earned Kimera an invite by his elder brother to go and make an extra buck in Ssese, Kalangala. However, the two years he spent there were tough because he had to brave the unhygienic conditions and there were no reliable transport by that time. He moved quite a lot to make people’s furniture. This did not deter him from keeping his principle of saving every penny.
Kimera rented a house and got a wife. “I wanted to be independent and have more privacy,” he says. He adds that his wife was very supportive because she would help with lifting for him the timber. According to a colleague, Kimera is such a skilled carpenter who beautifully joins pieces of wood to make beautiful products. Most clients like his creativity.
“Kimera has trained over 10 people in making furniture. He stresses that passing on the skills to the young generation equips them to alleviate poverty. He is willing to train several more.
Like any other businessperson, he has challenges .On a good day, Kimera receives between three to five clients while on bad days he does not receive any, he saves up to Shs300,000 in a month.
Carpentry requires a lot of capital because timber is very expensive. He adds that some clients order for furniture without depositing any money yet, one requires money to buy most of materials.
He goes to different places to work for people. He says some places are inaccessible due to bad roads. When it rains, the situation gets worse and he cannot make any money.
Despite the setbacks, Kimera has been able to educate his two children and equipped several youths with carpentry skills.
Kimera advises people with disabilities not to look at themselves as failures but acquire skills to survive.