Jane Arinaitwe loves to wear long feminine dresses. She likes to change it up with stylish trousers. "I can wear anything," she says.When she was
Jane Arinaitwe loves to wear long feminine dresses. She likes to change it up with stylish trousers.
“I can wear anything,” she says.When she was 19, the Ugandan model began to have headaches. Her eyesight began to fade and she was admitted to hospital. She lost consciousness and woke up blind.
Arinaitwe had just finished her high school education in 2005 at the time.”I managed to sit three papers, by the time we did the fourth paper I was unconscious in hospital,” she told CNN.For three years she found herself overwhelmed by the dark.
“When I lost sight, I knew my education career had come to an end. And I lost self-confidence, I started like, ‘I wish I died instead of becoming blind,'” said Arinaitwe who is 32-years-old.Adjusting to life without sight, in 2008 she learned to read Braille and went onto university – graduating with a diploma in Community Birth Rehabilitation in 2011.
Today, she is part of Hot Pink Catwalk, a fashion show held every year in Uganda’s capital Kampala. It is the largest fashion show dedicated to inclusion in the country.
Last year’s event had 32 models hit the runway and out of that number, 22 had disabilities. “Before I lost sight, I used to admire models. I used to admire modeling,” says Arinaitwe.
Watched by hundreds
Hot Pink Catwalk is the brainchild of the Malengo Foundation which began in 2015.
Michelle Omamteker, Malengo’s CEO, says the organization is about helping the country reach the United Nations sustainable development goal.
The goals advocate for the reduction of inequalities and the word ‘Malengo’ is Swahili for reaching goals. “Looking at an Africa that sees people beyond differences and focuses more by [on] similarities,” she says.
Top and upcoming local designers such as Teeto Afrika, Elijah Macquinn and Doris Sabiiti were featured in the show drawing hundreds of spectators from around the country.
The event draws a crowd particularly among Uganda’s youth. “They came from different parts of the country. It’s really grown in the sense,” says Omamteker.