Not Leaving People With Disabilities Behind
“I have moved around on my knees and hands. I have been through countless challenges. People look at you and question how you walk, some even laugh at me. Despite all this, my dream has always been to sit in an office as a secretary.”
To many who are abled differently optimism is their existence, coupled with hope and confidence to lead a purposeful life and achieve their dreams. Their everyday prayer is to live with dignity in an all-inclusive society; one guided by love, respect and support.
“My son Daniel was born with no disability but at nine years, he started being sick. Later on when he was about 15 years, we noticed a disability with his legs and since then he has been crawling with the support of his hands. He is now 22 years old. Lucky for me, my neighbours have always prayed for Daniel to one day get help,” Mr. Protus Wamutete, the father to Daniel narrated.
What Wamutete did not know is that the visiting team from the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) was on a surprise mission, one that could transform Daniel’s life.
“If the government has any help, I ask they assist Daniel with a wheelchair,” Wamutete added while gazing at his son Daniel seated next to him. Surrounding Daniel’s was his nine siblings, the mother, relatives and neighbours who had flocked the home when they saw the KRCS vehicle make its way to Wamutete’s homestead, everyone loaded with curiosity.
At this moment, the Project Coordinator for the Disability Mainstreaming project in Bungoma County, Margaret Wanyonyi walked toward Daniel and the father while pulling a huge carton box, all eyes focussed on her and the luggage possibly deliberating on its possible content.
When the carton box was slit open and the wheelchair unveiled, smiles marinated with emotions filled the space, Daniel’s face glowing with smiles and laughter - later the father told us Daniel had not had such a cheerful moment over the years.
Daniel is among people targeted by the Disability Mainstreaming project being implemented by the Kenya Red Cross Society and Christoffel Blindenmis (CBM), alongside other partners like the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya (APDK). The project aims to improve the quality of life for Persons with Disabilities through sustainable development, reduce stigma and discrimination, as well as increase acceptance of PWDs among members of the community.
Many more were supported with assistive devices during the 2018 International Day of Persons with Disabilities, among them Gladys Ngeiywa, a member of Kopsiro Tumaini Disabled Group.
“My life has been like this, I have moved around on my knees and hands. I have been through countless challenges. People look at you and question how you walk, some even laugh at me. During conflict when people are running to safety, I really struggle and end up injuring my hands and knees,” Gladys said.
“I schooled until class eight and I could struggle to write because of moving on my hands which could at times get numb. Despite all this, my dream has always been to sit in an office as a secretary,” Gladys continued.
Earlier on, groups such as the Cheptais Disabled Group based in Mt. Elgon had been supported with Ksh50,000 seed money and purchased 11 goats. Today, some of the goats are expectant and expected to boost their number of goats once they give birth.
“At the moment, five goats are pregnant and come January to February 2019, we know others will be pregnant too. This is a project being admired by other community members as a number have asked to join the group and learn from the project. The interest is immense. We will grow this projects and use it to reduce poverty levels,” Pamela explained.
Other groups that received seed money include the Sio Sub Location People Living with Disabilities that rears chickens, a project that is fast expanding. Their future plan is to be among lead commercial chicken suppliers in Bungoma County and beyond. Another group is the Kongoli Sub Location People with Disabilities, a 35 member group engaged in chicken rearing, pig keeping, fish selling and maize business.
The Kikwechi B. Disabled Self Group is also engaged in goat keeping and very optimistic of future expansion.
“I am very happy with the Kenya Red Cross. Through the disability mainstreaming project, they have done something that is very wonderful to my group. They have moved us from one place to another because since we started this group, we had never received any support. When we wrote a proposal to Kenya Red Cross for goat keeping, they gave us Ksh 50,000 where we bought 10 goats and a sheep. With time we plan to buy cows and become richer and richer,” Wycliffe Wekesa, Chair, Kikwechi B. Disabled Self Group lamented.