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Charlotte Kangume | Overcoming rape, amputation: How alcohol-fuelled night out regrettably changed my life

“Sometimes I wish life was written pencil so we could erase it and write it all over again.” When Sri Lankan author Thisuri Wanniarachchi coined this quote, she did not have Charlotte Kangume in mind.

Yet the 28-year-old Ugandan finds herself in a situation where she hopes she could be given a chance to write it all over again.

In the night of January 26, 2018, she – together with her friends – was involved in an accident when she was coming from a graduation party.

“I was intoxicated that night and even a friend who was driving was also drunk. I blame my accident on two things, alcohol and also the government being reckless with our lives by not doing enough to improve the state of our roads,” Kangume recounts the events of that night like they happened yesterday.

She was in a bad state when she was rushed to hospital. As they say, “when it rains, it pours!” The doctor categorically said that she had to be amputated. Her family was not cosy to the idea but they had no choice. In order to save their daughter’s life, she had to lose her left leg.

“My first artificial leg cost me [KSh500,000] and I raised it [money] for two years from friends, family and then the socket got broken. I had to go to Mulago hospital and get another socket,” she says in an interview with Nile Post.

Battling with emotional trauma

“I got an emotional trauma, one moment, I can wake up when I don’t want to see anyone, so I just lock myself in the room and that affects not only me but also my family,” Kangume – founder of Amputee Self-Help Network Uganda, a non-profit organisation that helps people in her situation – says.

Because of Kangume’s ‘mood’ swings, her family has had to battle with sleepless nights, sometimes monitoring her closely, afraid that she might commit suicide.

“There are certain things that I can no longer do like the way I used to do them,” she regrets.

Unlike in her previous, jovial life, Kangume can’t access basic items from downtown Kampala. She also has to grapple with stigmatisation from the public.

“One of my friends went to board a taxi and she was told by the driver ‘we don’t carry lame people like you’. You can imagine how painful the statement was, and yet this is the only transport means you can afford. Why do we have to use stigmatising words?”

With the festive season here with us, Kangume is advising the youth never to drive under the influence.

“We really need people to take care of their themselves and their neighbours. We need to be strict with our lives and other people lives. Don’t drink and drive,” Charlotte Kangume says.

Charlotte Kangume’s Amputee Self-Help Network Uganda

Charlotte Kangume
Using her organisation Amputee Self-Help Network Uganda, Charlotte Kangume has started to help road crash victims both emotionally and financial.

Using her organisation and friends, Kangume has started to help road crash victims both emotionally and financial.

For instance, the organisation started giving amputees psychosocial support to help them cope up with the aftermath of road crashes.

“We realised that in our hospitals out there, they treat and send you back home but they don’t prepare you for what kind of life you are going to live, what to expect and what to do, how to survive,” she states.

The organisation has also started the prosthetic accessibility funds, to help amputees who cannot afford artificial limbs.

Charlotte Kangume
Charlotte Kangume during a previous function.

What Charlotte Kangume said about making her rape incident public

“People have asked me [Charlotte Kangume] why I talk about the rape incident and that girls should keep quiet about such occurrences that am killing chances of me getting a spouse because a when someone is raped it’s considered bad lack. #so archaic right. And my reply is I talk about it because I want to change that view and because I hope to comfort a girl out there and tell her she is not alone and she can overcome whatever has transpired in her life that makes her feel she isn’t worthy.”


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