The conversation on Diversity and Inclusion has been brought to the fore around the world with recent world events. Companies are examining their recruitment and promotion policies and how these are impacting women, the disabled and minorities (in countries with majority Caucasian populations). The Global Diversity Practice defines diversity as relating to age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education, and national origin. Inclusion is defined as relating to different groups or individuals having different backgrounds are culturally and socially accepted and welcomed, and equally treated.
For this to be realized the conversation needs to extend beyond employment and into education. With the necessary skills, different individuals will be able to apply to the organizations hiring for different roles.
One of the pillars of the Safaricom Foundation is Education and with TVET where enrolment stands at 60%. They are investing in vocational education with an aim to increase TVET uptake in all the 47 counties.
Faith Kilonzo is among the students in TVET enrolled at Waithaka Vocational Center where she is pursuing a Food and Beverage course. Faith’s story is unique in that she lost her sight as a result of meningitis at 12 years old (she’s now 26).
She did not do too well in her KCPE exams which she took in 2011 and as a result, she stayed home for one year before pursuing several courses. She’s currently a professional masseuse. In order to have a source of income.
Her decision to enroll at Waithaka Vocational center came about when a friend mentioned the Safaricom Foundation scholarships for people living with disabilities and she decide to give it a try. She has always had a keen interest in cooking and she was excited about the idea of being able to join a learning institution and polish her cooking skills. Due to the pandemic, they’re currently doing their learning online and in her case, she uses the talk-back software on her phone to get her classwork going.
She remembers the day she went for the interview at was challenging but it also a great advantage because it showed her determination and potential to pursue whatever she puts her mind to. Despite the possible pitfalls associated with being in the kitchen with a visual disability, Faith was picked for the scholarship and is now well on her way to switching careers completely.
Her father is proud and was elated at the opportunity given to his daughter when she shared the news that she had been accepted for the scholarship. His words to her were that “For Safaricom to say that ‘I believe in you, I believe you can do it”.
Faith understands that a visual disability is hard to live with but as a word of encouragement to others in her shoes, she says not to lose hope. That greatness is in each and everyone of us despite the circumstances and it pays to look deep within ourselves to uncover it. Believe in yourself and God will always be by your side. He has provided a platform but its for you to go for it.
Her dreams are great and she says to watch this space. There’s something she’s dreaming of and also working on and once she graduates, she plans to do something major that will also inspire other people. Not just people living with disabilities, but people in general.