A transition from my Unspoken to Beauty for Ashes Celebrating our women with disabilities. Guest Author Christine

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Persons with psychosocial face common experiences in which they face torture, deprivation of liberty, isolation, trauma, violence,
stigmatization, exclusion and violation of their rights. This is perpetuated by family and the society at large.
Kenya has not yet made strong policy implementation towards protecting this minority group.
hhBeing a person with a disability, is not an easy ride, especially when the condition is acquired. More so, being a woman with a disability in today’s society its like life handed yohu lemons while the rest were given apples. The stigma associated with mental health especially in African countries, especially for a woman is quite a great challenge.
This is like a triple tragedy.
I affirm I have undergone through a turbulent time. I demand absolute respect for our human rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly those recognized in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities ratified by Kenya and other nations.
The transition from my unspoken to Beauty for ashes traces back to the jiffy when I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in July 2015.
indeed it seemed like the world had slam shut its window of opportunities on me.
I saw the restrictions associated with having a cerebral condition. However, this was a hurdle I had to cross before I could be crowned with my long overdue awaited graduation which was really crowned with pomp and flickering colors. Investing eight years in Campus (Kenyatta University) is not something to inscribe about. But looking back at my voyage, how I started so well back then in 2007 only to graduate many years later. It was a boredom struggle! A story of both resilience and hard work pressed me forward to surface what I had started. Ultimately, it all paid up, needless to say, I made it to be among the best students to be awarded by a First-Class Honors in Environmental Studies and Community Development in December 2015. In as much as I was so excited, my extreme encounter was facing the job arcade. I had very outstanding performances on my credentials, but now being frank and explaining the eight year duration in campus and its root cause, my career window just came down devastating on me.
Most persons with disabilities face discrimination and are denied opportunity by employers.
Certainly, I was perennially unlucky enough to secure employment, even after highly qualifying for certain prestigious positions; I was rejected at the deployment platform on the basis of my mental well-being. It took me time to get over this, and when I thought I had successfully overcome this mammoth my next work experience was another nightmare. A time, all these situations made me feel to curse that day I was born,
I kept having queries why me, why me! but should I keep despising and focusing on past ordeals! That’s life and I need to move on with empowering actions. Along the run, I was given a one month leave on the basis of I taking care of the issues I had, including health condition and I was like, ‘This Boss is heaven sent’ only for me to be sacked as my reporting date was drawing near by being removed from the organization’s social media platform like WhatsApp Group. You can imagine how sense of social inclusion was that a pipe dream in there!

That was it, it was done so unprofessionally and in a dehumanizing method which left I crushed in dismay. It was then that my eyes opened up and I decided to embark on this astonishing journey of founding my own organization since the two incidences reawakened my eyes to a well-rounded womb of reality that employers are really biased and to see me as a burden to their organizations which is not the case. The
worst prison ever on earth is self-doubt; disability is not and shall never be inability. These are greatest insights that convince to stay parallel with actions taken on me. The moment of starting up my organization, I was categorically clueless, but what I knew is that I had a passion for children and two; I had a love for community work. These two attributes coupled with astound knowledge in working with Civil Society Organizations on and off Campus placed me strategically in the marketplace only that I was still hovering around like a bird on air that looks for a prey. There is an event that happened in 29thOctober 2016, ‘Art and Disability – Rethinking Disability through
Art’ where I was among the main speakers of the day, I gave a motivational speech on how people with disabilities can create social change in the society. This event was an icebreaker for my case, I just found my niche, I just discovered that I was so passionate and this helped me drew my life canvas from that day henceforth, it was like my year had just began. I just saw all things from a whole new perspective and I just learnt to love myself for whom I am and appreciate my special abilities. I have taught in Sunday school for quite some time, ever since I was 13 years old [Not child labour though] and I have been able to teach young children as well as participate actively in the development of the curriculum for Vocational Bible School. This being my first love, I topped it up with a wealthy bundle ship of passion for using music, art and sports and culture as tools for creating awareness. In as much as I had identified the name of my organization as Global Youth Agenda, I really felt the name does not vibrate the values that I stand[s] for hence, intended to alternate with another name for the organization but the concept maintained its stability. Fast forward in November 2016, that is when I got to take my ideas to the next level. It was at that time that I thought of a mental wellness project that utilizes music, art, fashion and sports to create awareness on mental health.
My main project is about creating a curriculum for children with intellectual disabilities (autism) that incorporate music, art and sports as a learning tool and the use of culture to help the parents gain some hands-on skills to help them fend for their families and the needs of their special children. Indeed patience is bitter, but its fruits are sweet.
I am dearly humbled to be working with various organizations such as ItsAbilityDisability Center, Step up 4 Autism, just to mention but a few. It now feels impacting since I no longer stride in paths of rejection and discrimination. It is always a pleasure when think of the many times I have been called upon to represent the rights of persons with disabilities. The fact that am best placed to champion for the rights of those living with mental health conditions and are often misunderstood and looked down upon, is a great honor. That’s why I often refer to myself as a mental health awareness ambassador. Tomorrow being Women’s Day, I choose to celebrate Women with Disabilities who make transformational impact in our societies, indeed despite the challenges they face because of their condition they have wade through it all and have emerged as epitomes of success. Hats off to you all. For those who are still in the web of self pity, appreciate your abilities and view this as a strength and stepping stone to becoming a better you.

The Executive Director and President Global Youth Agenda [B.Env. Studies Community Development.