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Blind Ugandan Beekeeper Wins $25,000 International Entrepreneurship Award

Photo: HIVE Uganda

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Blind Ugandan Beekeeper Wins $25,000 International Entrepreneurship Award

In 1990, a young boy called Ojok Simon was ambushed and severely beaten by members of a guerilla group in his home country of Uganda.

The men belonged to the Lord’s Resistance Army; the rebel group led by Joseph Kony, who hit the headlines internationally in 2012.

Before viral videos were even a thing, the assault on Simon had left him with serious head injuries, which soon led to his eyesight failing.

However, Simon would not give up. Even as his vision deteriorated, he took on menial jobs to pay his own school fees.

One day, as he was walking in the bush close to his home, Simon happened upon a clay pot with bees and honey inside.

It was a chance discovery that would change his life, again. And this time for the better.

Fast forward to 2014 and Simon started HIVE Uganda, which currently manages over 100 colonized hives.

According to the website, the organization’s primary objective is:

“To consolidate beekeeping effort of visually-disabled people bee farmers in rural areas. This project is designed to strengthen beekeeping initiative in rural Uganda with bee resource Centre that has a processing unit, and once this has been achieved, HIVE plans to expand the project to other rural communities of East African countries.”

Simon’s work has now been recognized by the judges of the inaugural Holman Prize for Blind Ambition.

The award, which is decided by blind judges, is given by the LightHouse, a San Francisco-based charity that helps empower visually impaired individuals.

It chooses three winners.

Aside from Simon, the two others were Penny Melville-Brown, a blind baker from the UK, and Ahmet Ustunel, a blind kayaker from the US.

Simon says he’ll put the $25,000 prize into HIVE Uganda, which will enable him to teach even more visually impaired Ugandans to become beekeepers and entrepreneurs.

Another aim, he says, is to raise employment rates for blind and partially sighted individuals in rural Uganda.

Nobody could argue that Simon doesn’t deserve the award for the selfless work he’s doing, and for not allowing the terrible ordeal he suffered in 1990 defeat him.

It’s also fitting that an apiarist be(e) recognized in the inaugural Holman Prize for Blind Ambition.

Back in the 19th century, the scientific understanding of beekeeping biology was first figured out by the blind scientist, François Huber.

via Uganda Today

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