Malengo Foundation; Creating a fashion runway for the differently-abled


Malengo Foundationhas set up a partner initiative model management called ‘Ubuntu Fashionista Models’ that provides for the inclusion of the differently-abled (disabled) on various fashion and advertising platforms. Many a times, the differently-abled are marginalized and left out of most of the aspects of human life, fashion and advertising inclusive. Ubuntu Fashionista Models comes out to demystify the stereotype that the disabled can’t be models and achieve all their aspirations, the construed societal thought of thinking differently of some people. ‘Ubuntu’ is a word that means ‘human kindness’.


The model management and subsequently the Fashion show is based on SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) 10 for ‘Reduced Inequalities’, the show shall take place on 2nd July at Multi Purpose Hall UMA show grounds Lugogo, starting at 6pm under the theme “Fashion for reduced Inequalities” with Diana Opoti from Kenya and Gloria Wavamunno as the guest speakers.  Some of the top designers showcasing that day are; Gloria Wavamunno, Kwesh, Definiton Africa, Eguanna Kampala, Martha Jabo, Kas Wear, Balungi Uganda among others.

This Is Uganda was able to catch- up with Michelle Omamteker, the founder and team leader of Malengo Foundation, enjoy;

Malengo Foundation is the mother of Ubuntu Fashionista Models, what is Malengo Foundation?

Malengo Foundation is a youth inspired & youth driven platform set up to propagate the 17 Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) popularly known as The Global Goals to youth across the African continent. We craft creative & engaging platforms around the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) with aims to maintain youth engagement over the next 15 years & hence increase consciousness & engagement of youth towards Global issues as a whole with specific emphasis on their role in the success of the United Nations 2030 Global Agenda to transform our world.

Malengo Foundation also runs a Global Goals inspired Merchandising line whose role is to create awareness of the Global Goals among youth and also as a way of raising income for Malengo’s community projects. Under this initiative, Malengo Foundation makes badges, t-shirts and educational resources inspired by the Global Goals.

What inspired the creation of Malengo Foundation and what are the foundation’s goals?

I was greatly inspired during my participation in the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) march at Barlonyo massacre grounds in Lira district in September last year, where we welcomed the SDGS in our country as well as witnessed Nobel Peace Prize Nominee 2015 & Global Goals ambassador Mr.Victor Ochen raise the flag for Global Goal 16 for Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. This historic event was a great community mobilization. After attending the event I witnessed firsthand what the 2030 Global Agenda as a whole means for every community across this nation and Africa as whole, with the immense need for everybody especially young people to be aware of the Global Goals and actively participate, engage and adopt them. So, I decided to start an organisation that is committed to this pursuit.

What Inspired the upcoming Global Goal 10 Fashion Show?

The Global Goal 10 Fashion show organised by Ubuntu Fashionista Models in partnership with Malengo Foundation is inspired by United Nations Global Goal 10 for Reduced Inequalities. It is an annual event hinged on the 2030 Global agenda target to empower & promote the social & economic inclusion of all people irrespective of their physical & intellectual capabilities.

What are the challenges you have faced during the planning of the Ubuntu fashion show?

Ubuntu Fashionista Models is a model management that provides for the inclusion of models across all physical & intellectual capabilities. It is set up as a partner initiative of Malengo Foundation under the Malengo Differently-Abled NOT Disabled campaign to creatively engage the youth with Global Goal 10 for ‘Reduced Inequalities’. It is launching on July 2nd 2016 with an annual fashion show for Global Goal 10 for Reduced Inequalities. Ubuntu Fashionista Models is fighting the word “disability” as a whole as well as fighting the current limiting perceptions surrounding it, with the aim to move Africa towards looking at our variations in abilities as “Different Abilities” and not as “Disabilities”. As this is a fairly new concept in Africa from a social perspective, the challenge has majorly been in the current rigid & limiting societal perceptions we have encountered from some of the potential stakeholders. Nevertheless, it only further substantiates our need to continue to educate more people about Reduced Inequalities with the hope that these perceptions will change eventually. So we intend to keep up the fight to see to it that all needs for all people are holistically considered in a bid to move our society towards a “Differently-Abled” mindset & to see to it that all young people & youth with Different Abilities (YWDs) are catered for from a social and economic standpoint. We are however extremely grateful to all the stakeholders who have received Reduced Inequalities through this platform with open hands from the onset.

Where do you see the Ubuntu Fashionista Models show in 3 years?

I see it as being a model platform for inclusion across East Africa and Africa as whole, bringing more and more young people together to celebrate the ideal of a world where all young people irregardless of their physical & intellectual capabilities are socially & economically empowered in line with the United Nations Targets for the 2030 Global Agenda on Reduced Inequalities.

What advise do you give to people who don’t create spaces for the differently-abled people?

Different ability is not something that needs to be overcome, it needs to be adapted to like everything else we encounter in this life. We become adaptive, we do not ignore-we adapt. The simple fact that there is not a single human being who can say for certain that over the course of their entire life they will never encounter a different ability before they die-this should be motivation enough. You could be driving to work today and end up in an accident & get crippled. You could bear a child who is differently-abled. Your sister or brother or loved one could get differently-abled tomorrow…my point is, different-ability is something that affects us all, so we owe it to ourselves to fight for a world where being differently-abled has no bearing to inhibit our goals, dreams & aspirations. We owe it to our children to fight for societies that are adaptive, where we can all thrive regardless of our different abilities.