Disability Mainstreaming in Bungoma
“My son asked that I visit him in school so everyone can see who his father is. His statement brought tears to my eyes, he is proud of me despite the fact that am an individual with disability. If the community was more accepting like my son, the world would be a better place for us.”
Godfrey Wafula Simiyu is one of the individuals with disability in Kanduyi sub-county, Bungoma County benefiting from a programme focusing on empowering persons with disability. The programme that is funded by Christian Blind Mission (CBM) and implemented by the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) focuses on disability mainstreaming and inclusion.
Godfrey says that he grew up knowing that disability is a curse. Families that had a member with some form of disability was considered cursed. This kind of labelling he says, forced families to hide their children and because of this, a majority of them never attained formal education.
The programme advocates for inclusion of persons with disability at the social, governance and economic level. Through the programme, persons with disability in the targeted county –Bungoma are provided with skills to enable them start-up Income Generating Activities (IGAs), taken through vocational training and encouraged to form Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA) groups.
“I once went for a job interview, then I did not have a wheelchair so I used to crawl. When it was my turn to be interviewed, I entered the room and could tell that some of the panellists were uncomfortable. One of them asked me in harsh tone, why I was there. He said there is nothing that a person like me can do,” said Godfrey Wafula. “I got the job, but that is one experience that I will never forget.”
According to a National Survey carried out in 2007 and an estimated 4.6 million Kenyans are living with some form of disability. The Kenyan Government has made deliberate efforts to facilitate disability mainstreaming both at the county and the national level and in the private sector, through establishing a department at NCPWD. The efforts are focused on ensuring all inclusive and accessible environments for PWDs.
“When I got pregnant, my husband was teased a lot this stressed him. Fellow men in the village told him he is not man enough because he impregnated a woman with disability,” said Emily Mulati. She is a resident of Khalaba ward, Kanduyi Sub County. Mulati would get ridiculed every time she got pregnant. Married to a physically abled man, the community would tease her husband. Emily has benefitted from training and livelihood support through the KRCS programme.
“We were encouraged to form groups where we received training and are saving money and loaning to each other. Through the group we have been able to compete for tenders within the county government. Recently we got a tender to supply school uniforms am, so excited about the strides we have made thus far,” Emily said.
The programme does not just focus on physical disability but also mental disability.
“The Mount Elgon area was greatly affected by inter-community conflict that saw community members affected both physically and mentally. Through the programme the PWDs are able to receive psychosocial support, go through livelihood training, empowered on their rights and privileges among other things.” James Onsongo, Public Health Manager, Health, Nutrition and Social Services