I love the words ‘disability is not inability’. I love the idea that despite life handing rough cards to persons living with disabilities, the human spirit of resilience shines through when they do things that even surpass able bodied counterparts. I also love it when persons living with disabilities are given some extra push if only to build onto their resilient spirits and do great things. We have seen enabling initiatives towards our brothers and sisters living with disabilities and some of the most notable ones are from corporates like Safaricom through Safaricom Foundation.
A good example that comes to mind is the hugely successful ‘Hope for the future’ race which is organized by visually impaired athlete Henry Wanyoike, and partly sponsored by Safaricom through the Safaricom Athletic Series. Judging by the sheer number of people who leave their businesses behind to be part of the race every year its impact on the people of Kikuyu is visible. Proceeds of the race take on purchasing and distributing disability aids to those who cannot afford them. So far for example, Henry Wanyoike Foundation has distributed 100 wheelchairs and 400 walking sticks for the visually impaired. And that’s not all. The foundation also educates needy children in the area and conducts motivational talks by Henry himself.
Education is one of the most powerful ways of integrating persons with disabilities into society and it is a good thing that Safaricom is also involved in quite a number of partnerships to make life easier for them.
Apokor special needs school in Nambale
Take for example Apokor Special Primary School in Nambale. The currently has 140 students, 40 of whom have hearing disabilities, 72 have mental challenges and others have either visual impairment, autism or visual disability. Like anyone else, these kids needed comfortable sleeping quarters but this was not the case in this school until Safaricom Foundation stepped in to build a 50 bed capacity dormitory. Before that, the boys were spending the night in a room in the neighboring school and this constant movement obviously affected their concentration, and ultimately their quality of education. With comfortable sleep comes well rested students with enough energy to face the day.
Kianyaga Children’s home
Last year the foundation also renovated pavements at Kianyaga Children’s home in Kirinyaga. For kids for whom movement is already difficult enough, one can only imagine how much worse irregular paving must be at a place of near permanent residence. The renovated pavements made moving around the compound between classes, offices and dormitories so much easier especially for blind students and those on wheelchairs. As such, what Safaricom Foundation did was not simply repair pavements, but also touched and changed lives in a big way. Kianyaga Children’s home has 23 children, all of whom are living with different physical disabilities.
Machakos Teachers College Disability Center
Machakos county is home to 1,340 people with physical disabilities, 776 with visual disabilities and 914 with hearing disabilities. Such numbers cannot be ignored and it is with this in mind that Safaricom Foundation stepped in to finance the construction and equipping of the Machakos Teachers College disability center. The college opened its doors to learners with hearing and visual impairment in 2005. The foundation constructed 4 washrooms with wide doors and a sound proof room among other disability friendly amenities and handed the center over to the college late last year.
African Braille Centre
A good example of what Safaricom Foundation has done towards better education for the visually impaired is to support the African Braille Center in the production of audio digital books. This brings education closer to them. The African Braille Center is a Nairobi based NGO that supports visually impaired children with devices, equipment and braille literature.
These are just a few examples. There’s so much more going on to the benefit of our disabled brothers and sisters. These people have rights to live full lives and be accepted into societies and not shunned or worse still, hidden from sight by their guardians and relatives.