Great things happen when communities come together. We cannot look at community fully without looking at umbrella bodies that bring people of a particular interest together. In this case we’re looking at the Deaf Athletics Association of Kenya (DAAK), a non profit organization mandated to discover and nurture deaf athletes in the country. Other than bringing the deaf community together, DAAK also boasts quite a number of wins, including bringing home 17 medals from the 2013 Deaflympics in Sofia Bulgaria. This organization has been supported by Safaricom through the Safaricom Athletics Series, among other corporate bodies.
The Safaricom Athletics series which came to be in 2013, is the umbrella banner under which the company manages all its athletics sponsorships. It is through this that it sponsors different athletics events, including the just concluded Deaf Athletics held in Meru and Uasin Gishu, and community based races like the upcoming “Hope for the future” race by the Henry Wanyoike Foundation. Also under this series are the Ndalat Gaa Cross Country in Nandi, the Kisumu City National Marathon, Kisii Half Marathon, Iten Road Race and the Mombasa International Marathon.
Few things bring people, and especially Kenyans together more than athletics which we’re well known for worldwide. And with the Deaf Athletics, it is good to see that our deaf members of society are not left behind in stamping Kenya as the home of athletic champions.
We’ve followed the just concluded deaf olympics and gathered a few heart warming stories that bring to light the power of community. Stories of a demonstration of strength, and testament to the fact that disability is not inability. That in spite of everything, life goes on into a series of wins for families, communities and ultimately the country as a whole.
Triple champion Simon Kibai is from Uasin Gishu and is the current winner of the 10,000m Men’s race. He brought his 2-year-old daughter along to Eldoret so that she can witness daddy run and win. He hopes that in future this will create an interest in her to be an athlete.
During the last Olympics, Simon earned a tidy sum of money that has helped him a lot. He’s able to fend for his family and especially to educate his daughter, and he hopes to help lift people in his community out of poverty. Simon and his wife are expecting a second child and he feels motivated to take part in the olympics so that he can bring more medals and improve the lives of his expanding immediate family, as well as his community.
21 year old Hannah is a first timer in the Deaf Olympic championships and already she has managed to clinch first position in Women’s 5,000m and 1,500m races.
Hannah is the first born in a family of 8 and she prays that she’s able to win something so as to be able to pay school fees for herself and her siblings. Her dream is to be the best athlete in the country. She has been to different parts of the country including Nyeri and Western Kenya and from the look of things, she’s headed further. Already, she has qualified for the Turkey Deaflympics which will be held in July.
Juster is a form one student from Kisii county who has emerged winner in the 10000m women’s race. She started running in the year 2000. She has been out of the country to represent Kenya and although she did not perform well, she’s optimistic to keep doing better. The very fact that she has discovered her strengths and they’ve started taking her places is a good enough start me thinks. Way to go Juster!
Walter, also a form one student from Kakamega, is also a first timer in the Olympics. He hopes to be selected to represent Kenya in further races. Walter is particularly grateful for the Safaricom sponsorship because in the first place it has enabled him even just to travel to Eldoret to take part in the championships.
These are just a few stories but the bigger picture is clear. Sporting is transformative. As is community empowerment. Bring these two together and give them the right kind of support and we have a winner.