Why disability sector should be the leader in employment of the disabled! . Author Mugambi Paul.

Many initiatives in Kenya are in place for advancing the rights of persons with disabilities.
Most of the initiatives are led by international bodies, government, disability persons organizations and also individuals with disabilities.
Like in many other areas, Kenya has put in place progressive policy and legal frameworks with the intention of improving lives of Persons with Disability
The question on the unemployment of disabled persons has not be answered.
Should we continue with the same old tricks of finding solutions?
Are there no innovative ways of enhancing employment of the disabled persons in Kenya?
When will we stop board room discussions and ensure the largest minority get at list 5 % of the constitution threshold of employment?
What are the outcome of the global commitments on inclusive work?
According to the KBS 67% of the disabled population lives in poverty (2.97 million people).
Should these alarming statistics ring the bell to policy makers?
Kenya has seen gazettement of directorship of boards in the recent past.
Additionally, jobs are being advertised left, right and centers,
How many disabled persons have been included?
As a public policy scholar, I opine that the design, development and Implementation of disability related policy and legal frameworks have been weak.
Am not surprised that we do not have a living disability policy since the draft came out in 2006.

In order to address the unemployment among the disabled the disability sector itself needs to internally examine itself and retrace the why discrimination and stigma is rampant.

I believe we all know Stigma and discrimination lead to humiliating stereotypes and prejudices.
My opinion is that the disability sector should be the first to lead the route towards reduction of unemployment among the disabled Kenyans.
This is because the disability sector understands better about the disabled Kenyans.
How we live in poverty, have limited opportunities for accessing education, health, suitable housing and limited employment opportunities.
Some of my suggestions ae radical in nature.
I believe disabled Kenyans want to be productive members of society. Sometimes the disability sector amazes me when they advertise positions while they have in their data base many qualified individuals with disabilities.
How many employees with disabilities are in this sector?

Its not much to ask for government and private sector to improve access to basic education, vocational training relevant to labour market needs and jobs suited to skills, interests and abilities, with adaptations as needed.
In addition, the disability sector should be quick to advocate for inclusive vocation and technical training where the government is pumping allot of resources at the constituency levels.
The disability sector should be the leader in dismantling other barriers like making the physical environment more accessible, providing information in a variety of formats, and challenging attitudes and mistaken assumptions about people with disabilities
In other words, the disability sector should lead by example by operationalizing these dreams.
My second recommendation is the disability sector should comprehensively take on board disabled persons in internship and progressively employ the disabled for positions based on performance and qualifications.
Through these the disability sector will enhance visibility and promote employment of individuals with disabilities.
The disability sector can use these great good practices I to preach to both public and private sector on employment of disabled persons.
All in all individuals with disabilities want to have a Productive and decent work which will enable them to realize their aspirations, improve their living conditions and participate more actively in society

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.

Why the Blind Kenyans have Join the Drinking Nation Courtesy Of the society and Union for the Blind Author: Mugambi Paul

According to world health organization 2019 2.2 billion people, which represents 25% of the world’s population, have some form of vision impairment. Half of them do not yet have access to services,
80% in Africa alone

It’s estimated that about one and a half million Kenyans are either blind or vision impaired.
Furthermore, Many places within the City of Nairobi and other major towns in Kenya remain virtually and visually inaccessible to disabled persons.
These include restaurants, offices, entertainment joints, offices and health facilities among others.
Such public places; buildings, social amenities and facilities lack disability accessible infrastructure like lifts, ramps and designated parking.
Most entertainment joints in the city and major towns are nowadays located in back streets buildings. This makes their accessibility by the blind a nightmare, more so without the assistance of sensitive well-wishers.
The blind, vision Impaired and other disabled citizens in Kenyas’ fight for their rights has been met with hard resistance, ironically by the very systems that have put in place by the government and non state actors to uphold their rights.
In fact, these systems have disenfranchised the public participation in decision making processes like law making, putting the blind, vision impaired and other disabled at risk of serious injuries in busy public facilities, It’s terrifying, to say the least.
Unfortunately, The blind and visually impaired take risk move around every day in the shared spaces, some being so unlucky to have sustained injuries or killed all together.
It is hazardous even around car packs and buildings entrances.
As a blind person navigating such spaces, you are surrounded by loud noises, and large objects moving around you, always living in fear of getting crushed.
Sometimes you fear that you will get killed on road or car park with people in shared spaces never watching out for disabled persons, especially the blind and vision impaired.
I remember recently, a rogue driver crushed my white-cane; how far do you think the car was, from me?
Additionally, The County of Nairobi designed accessible traffic lights project which hardly meet the universally accepted accessibility measures, the project is a disappointed to the blind and the visually impaired.
Evidently, I tried to engage persons manning one of the trial traffic lights which proved to be futile, owing to the signature bureaucracy perpetuated in the management of county disability affairs in Kenya.
Disabled persons organizations and other stakeholders need to petition the Nairobi county government to ensure absolute access of the by the blind and the vision impaired to exact drop off points.
This will be reduce or avoid all together calamities associated with inaccessibility, and save the blind and visually impaired on the cost incurred in mitigation of the inaccessibility.
It is absolutely sad to note that the Nairobi county government banned the use of motorcycles within the city without providing an alternative for the vulnerable persons, which again boils down to exclusion of the blind in decision making.
This whole state of affair results to most blind and vision impaired persons having additional psychosocial disability, making them feel like second-class citizens.
The Kenya union of the Blind which is supposed to be the chief advocate for the blind and visually impaired persons is now busy creating and promoting “a blind and visually impaired drinking nation”
In the union’s Embakasi headquarters area, they have invested on butchery and a bar.
I won’t be surprised the Kenya society for the blind joining in the same breath since already they have commercialized its premises with garages and restaurants.

the Kenya union of the blind and the Kenya society of the blind have absconded their advocacy role in favor of investment.

The blind and the visually impaired persons in Kenya have been discriminated for far too long. Time is now that they ought to arise and claim their place in the public space.
The blind and visually impaired persons need to lobby policy makers and other community leaders to ensure accessibility for disabled persons is achieved.
The society and policy makers need to understand blindness is also a mobility disability.
The Persons with Disabilities Act 2003 partly states that persons with disabilities are entitled to a barrier free and disability-friendly environment.
The proprietors of public buildings and transport must endeavor to comply with this law, and the relevant authorities need to enforce compliance fairly and objectively.
When shall we ever move from theory to practice?
The views expressed here are those of the author, they do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy, diversity and inclusion expert.

Why the Kenya Revenue Authority should partake responsibility of tax exemption for the disabled Kenyans!

During the past 3 decades in Kenya there have been numerous changes in our society with respect to the management and treatment of people with disabilities.
Of course, there ar numerous success stories of actual improved disability mainstreaming.
How did the changes occur?
Many legislative and societal changes have taken place for instance, the disability act of 2003, the UNCRPD 2006 and the 2010 constitution and several disability related regulations. Furthermore, these gains have been necessitated by the lobbing and advocacy by disabled persons and their organizations.
On the other hand, Disability mainstreaming and work to end discrimination against disabled persons have been on both government and non-state actors’ agendas for decades. Why is disability mainstreaming still important?
Some of us feel that “everyone” in government and non-state actors who include development and human rights organisations are well aware of the issues. But the truth is that in organisations without
any explicit focus on disability mainstreaming or disability social justice, the levels of awareness for disability-based discrimination (and the need to end it) tend to be uneven.
Am not surprised by the inaccessible built environment, inaccessible information or the negative attitudes which still exist among the Kenyan society.

Efforts to promote disability equality remain limited and often isolated. Some would prefer to drop “disability” altogether, busy as they feel with all those other
issues that must be “mainstreamed” – good governance, environmental protection, HIV/AIDS prevention, “you name it!”

most government and private entities normally pass on the back when dealing with disability matters!
I opine that ignorance in the Kenyan society is very expensive for disabled persons.
Why should and institution require permission to offer disabled person a service?

As citizens we do not require permission to get a passport, when one has Malaria a disabled person doesn’t require permission.
Why does Kenya revenue authority run away from its responsibilities?
As long as one has uploaded the right documentation there is no need of putting more barrier for the disabled persons.
Why are policy makers silent on this injustice?
Most top government policy makers and stakeholders have done benchmarking of disability services in other countries and they know how good and proper systems work for the people.
Why are they not actualizing simple and impactful solutions to the disabled persons?

. But there are at least five reasons why “disability mainstreaming” must continue:
list of 5 items
1. Organisations that are committed to universal human rights have a responsibility to ensure their work respects and promotes human rights. Disabled rights
are human rights, enshrined in widely accepted international treaties as the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities UNCRPD 2006.

Any rights-based approach that neglects disabled persons rights is inadequate.

2. International movements and campaigns rally large numbers of disabled people. Disabled persons make the largest minority group in the world

if government institutions who are the planners, implementers and evaluators ignore disabled interests and needs, and refrain from
engaging disabled persons as interlocutors, collaborators and allies.
They will never get it right!
3. Many development and human rights agencies are into education and campaigning – i.e., they attempt to spread ideas around, and to mobilise others to
join them in their cause. The messages they convey, implicitly or explicitly,
influence people’s minds: research has shown that campaigning can reinforce or weaken people’s value systems – broadly speaking, what they consider to
be “good” or “bad”, “right” or “wrong”. (See for example the gender mainstreaming angle.
Hence, it is important to avoid reinforcing values that condone discrimination and other violations against disabled persons
which would be in stark contradiction with the development and human rights goals most of us defend.
The disability organizations need to take lead in voicing what needs to be don on tax related concerns.
Disabled persons should not just be raising concerns on the social media but take the demands to the Kenya revenue authority.
The Kenya revenue authority need to work along side disabled persons in order to ensure smooth and faster process is achieved.
4. disability -based violence is not only one of the most pervasive human rights violations, it also jeopardises development. For example, large numbers of disabled persons have experienced delayed service delivery due to the bureaucratic processes. For instance, delayed in tax exemption renewal, with
dire consequences for their physical well-being, their mental health and their social status. Getting tax exemption is right, but y risk their
lives because of high cost of transport, psychological wellbeing. The Kenya revenue authority should know that most disabled persons are unemployed and for those who do not get access to the service
are likely to feel abused, something is deeply wrong.
Additionally, the Kenya economy is highly affected by wastage of hours on the road.
The tax exemption should have been simplified through decentralization of Kenya revenue authority services at the county.
In other words, if the digitalization process ways actualized the staff at Kenya revenue authority would be able to automatically issue exemption certificates without delay.
The disability mainstreaming focal point person at Kenya revenue has to actualize the dreams of disabled persons by ensuring the system works beyond himself or herself.
Are there government institutions, private sectors who have been given tax relief by the Kenya revenue authority for promoting disability employment and improving access for disabled persons in Kenya?
5. In terms of efficiency, any organisation has a responsibility to serve the disable persons who need their service.
Disabled persons should not be treated as second class citizen in government services.
Siting an example in 2019 May the Kenyan government in collaboration with world bank launched the braille version of the 2030 vision which in essence non blind persons read a decade ago. Is this fair?
The Kenyan policy makers need to stop the mancantile policy process and adapt solution-oriented policy and procedures.

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.

Why the Disabled Kenyan man missed the Land comission job!

Disabled persons all over the world face surmountable challenges in accessing participation in all spheres of life.
Siting example of Kenya it has been a long struggle for advocacy of both individuals and institutions to recognize persons with disabilities.
Disabled persons are 15 per cent of the world’s population, that’s one billion people, and yet, they are significantly more unemployed and under-employed
As expected, the constitution of Kenya is clear on matters representation and appointments in the public and private sector.
As evidenced by Section 54(2) of the Kenya constitution 2010 requires the state to ensure that at least 5 % of the members of the public in elective
and appointive
bodies are persons with disabilities. The sustainable development goals (SDGs), to which Kenya is party, in target 8.5, the world hopes that by 2030 achieve
full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and
equal pay for work of equal value. Despite existing domestic and global legal frameworks, access to the labor market remains a daunting challenge for
persons with disabilities. This may be attributed to accessibility related challenges, inadequate quality education stigma and lack of a comprehensive
strategy to empower and absorb persons with disabilities into the job market.
Additionally, disabled persons have been underemployed, and employers have immensely refused to adapt reasonable accommodation measures which could have enhanced the productivity of individuals with disabilities.
On the other hand, People with disabilities represent a significant untapped source of talent for employers and a market segment for businesses that includes not only the
person with a disability but their family members and friends. Businesses and employers are recognizing that disability inclusion in the workplace represents
a competitive advantage that has been overlooked for too long.
ILO 2005 in one of its studies stated clearly that with proper accesses and provision of reasonable accommodation disabled persons can stay for long in a particular job than the non-disabled counterparts thus high productivity and prophitability of the organizations
This reduces even the expenses of hiring new staff and reduces staff turnover.

Moreover, the situation is further aggravated by lack of an elaborate and sustainable
social security mechanism for this historically marginalized group.
The big question is what it shall take for the Kenyan government to effectively address the problem of accessibility and provision of reasonable accommodation to the labor market for persons
with disabilities?
The Kenyan 2018 public service disability mainstreaming policy articulates clearly the measures which all public entities should follow in promoting the welfare of disabled persons and promoting reasonable accommodation.
If all government entities adapt this approach all disabled persons in Kenya will stop lamentation.
Of course, this is
is the only sure way of granting persons with disabilities a chance to live an independent, dignified and respectable life.
The jury is out there, disabled persons are still hoping to see which government agency is executing the provisions of the constitution, UNCRPD, public service policy etc.

Unfortunately, this has not been the case for the most appointments in the recent past of Kenyan story.
For instance, after the expiry of the first land commission,
It was expected a new team will be brought on board.
Unfortunately, the disabled person who made it to the finals was not nominated to serve on the commission.
This is to show how Kenya has not recognized the importance of having a disabled commissioner.
To put it differently, disabled persons have been denied the opportunity of voicing the voice of the largest minority group.
Its not that the disabled persons don’t have concerns on the land matter but it is clear that disabled are the most disadvantaged on land matters.
Disabled persons have lost land to family, relatives and friends, they are also disinherited by the relatives, land taken away without their consent etc.
Regrettably, no human rights body nor the disability movement advocated for the disabled person to be taken on board. Even after the gazettement of the current list no one came to voice the agenda. Where is the so-called disability caucus group?
Why did the chairperson of the gender commission who doubled as the task force chair didn’t voice this discrepancy?
Will the disabled individuals be locked out of the upcoming IEBC commission job?
The jeury is out there.

For a thriving and leadership someone could have taken responsibility of this Agenda. pick me up!
Disable persons organization and disabled persons and allies need to rise up and advocate for better appointments and representation.
The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.

Kenya society for the Blind need to be led by Blind and vision impaired persons Author Mugambi Paul

Kenya society for the Blind need to be led by Blind and vision impaired persons
Author Mugambi Paul

believe this as much today as we did in 1940. Unfortunately, too many Kenyan people
still take literally the parable that says when the blind lead the blind,
both will fall into the ditch. In 1950 our hope said that a literal
interpretation was wrong, and our experience now confirms it day after day,
year after year, decade after decade.
This is when the formation of Kenya Union of the Blind took place.
Unfortunately most never lived to see the fruits of there labour as veterans.
This affirmed by the heroes and heroines in the Blindness sector who have either gone ahead of us.
Some of these have provided great leadership and others have refused to pass on the baton to the generations to come.
I affirm that Kenya union of the Blind is one of the sleeping icons in the country.
As an advocacy organ it has not put any government institution relating to blindness to reform or become accountable to the Blind and vision impaired .
The heroes and heroines in the Blindness sector are turning in to their graves asking what happened?
As I was explaining earlier,
i but parables, stereotypes, and legal beliefs do not easily give way
even in the face of evidence refuting them. Unfortunately, the Blind and visually impaired persons have rendered the public space to be run by others who are not blind or vision impaired.
Kenya society for the Blind is one great example where the blind and vision impaired think they can find solace but it’s all in vain.
Kenya institute for the blind is facing similar predicament.
When was the position advertised?
Was it accessible to the blind and visually impaired persons?
Aren’t there Blind and visually impaired professionals.
Why are we silent on this?
In other words, many professionals who are not blind have mastered to speak on our behalf and have largely misrepresented the Blind and thus the once vibrant blind and vision impaired sector is crying for social justice to prevail.
The blind and vision impaired persons need to scrutinize the positions of the Chief executive officers of these government entities so that they do not become permanent and deny able blind and vision impaired persons from serving their own.

As a public policy scholar, I opine the blind and vision impaired persons need to rise and bring cows back home.
This is to say the blind and vision impaired need to make important decisions on how the blind related organizations ran by government and nonstate actors through having the say.
Secondly as a blind person I know the shoe since am the wearer.
No amount of professional who is neither Blind or vision impaired can understand or have the experience we have.
Thirdly, no wonder Central bank of Kenya and the Kenyan media have collaborated to cheat the public that bank notes are accessible to us the blind and vision impaired persons!
Let the Blind and vision impaired come of age and do the needful.
We are grateful for the support you have offered us,
Let now the Blind and the vision impaired persons be the leaders in the sectors.
Am not surprised that the little kid the Albinism family has been able to build away from home and has fortunately claimed the national cake at its best.
Unfortunately they left the Mother and father “Blind and vision impaired” to suffer.
Furthermore, without blind once built their identity not only on helping the blind but in speaking for us, making
all important decisions for us, and being the interpreters through which
Kenya would hear from its blind unfortunates. Thanks to Kenyan constituent which recognizes the people as the owners and proclamation of public participation and a country that encourages us to reach for our day in the sun as we
pursue the Kenyan dream.
Will the Blind and vision impaired generation not have chief executives who are blind?
Will the future blind and vision impaired generation just see us in the profession of begging and teaching?
I hope the Kenyan blind and vision impaired person now can start to speak for ourselves, direct the
programs that serve us, and tell our communities what we need and which
service providers are delivering it. We still need professionals who learn
to teach the alternative skills we need and to develop ever-more-helpful
equipment, but we do not need these men and women to speak for us but with
us, sharing in the collaboration that creates, maintains, and evaluates
quality services.

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.

Mugambi Paul graduation

#thanks to the almighty God.
Am humbled to have been a state guest at the Kenya high commission.
The embassy held a graduation party in honor of my academic success and social inclusion agenda.
Thanks to the ambassador
Issaiah Kabira, and the Australian family
“#DFAT, #Australia awards, Kenyan students, #fitability, #CMS radio team, #People with disabilities ACT and all friends for the recognition .
Being a treil blaza on this, I hope many more will follow soot.
Coming from the largest marginalized group of persons with disabilities its not a mean achievement.
Setting standards higher.
I hope the mark I have set can be broken or made much better for future scholars with disabilities.
I will let my smile change the world, but I won’t allow the world change my smile.
I never imagined I would conquer the people’s hearts.
Once you belive in yourself go for it.

the sky is not the limit since there are footprints on the moon.

Humility, simplicity, prudence and integrity will see closed doors open.
I have learnt to Consult not my fears but my hopes and my dreams.
#be humble
😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂
😂

😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

thanks to the team from the embassy, friends God bless you great momments are made by this experience. step by step we can make a world a better place. its possible when granted the opportunity. we can go beyond the limit #disability is not inability

thanks to the friends,, organizations People with disabilities ACT, DFAT< Austtalia awards team, CMS Radio Blind cricket Fitabiity embassy crew for the love and friendship you granted me. you shall for ever remain in my heart.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_377" align="aligncenter" width="1280"] enjoying the moment with great friends, Fit-ability, team, CMS radio, fellow Kenyan students and Australian family

Addressing guests at the Kenyan embassy on my wonderful experience of how the Australia awards has transformed my life for the betterment of contributing to making a world a better place through ensuring social protection and participation of persons with disabilities in both public and private affairs. thanks to DFAT Australia Awards the Australia national university #crawford school for the enormous support and the faith you had in me.

Why vehicle tax for the Blind has no sense! Author Mugambi Paul.

Most governments in the world tend to design and develop public policies with interests attached.
This is to say the policy makers and stakeholders have a tendency to influence the outcomes of regulations, guidelines and policy processes.
Moreover, for any public policy to be practically executed for purely benefit of the majority it must have passed through the bottom top approach.
The lack of engaging disabled persons in Kenya in developing most policies has led to have poor execution of most well intended policies.
For example, the tax exemption of vehicles by the treasury ministry seem not to have achieved its purpose.
I affirm that the tax exemption seems to benefit a tiny fraction of the disabled community in Kenya.
In other words, the largest population of the disabled Kenya aren’t enabled.
Why is this?
Majority of the disabled Kenyans are unemployed.
According to ILO report found that excluding people with disabilities from the labor market results in a significant loss to GDP across
Africa and Asia low- and middle-income countries as much as 3-7% of their GDP per year.
According to Public service report 2015 disabled employee persons account for less than 1 % in the public sector.
Furthermore, the purpose of the Kenya revenue authority is to collect maximum taxes and anything aimed at reducing it will cause jitters.
Another reason is lack of awareness amongst the disabled population this is evidently seen and expressed by this article. by https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000013873/the-disabled-still-pay-tax-despite-exemptions
With this notwithstanding, one of the marginalized groups among the disabled on this tax exemption is the Blind community who face triple tribulation.
Some of my findings among the blind community ascertain that this vehicle exemption doesn’t make sense.
This is because the Kenya revenue excepts the tax waver for a blind person but on the other hand, they take away by form of ensuring the blind is under the spell of paying more
Needless to say, the bureaucratic process itself makes the disabled person to give up.
The Kenya revenue authority needs to invest technology to reduce the bureaucratic and tedious processes when the disabled acquire there services.
I opine not just technology but an inclusive universally designed to soot all.
couldn’t the Kenyan government find a proper affirmative action for transport for blind commuters?
In most developed nations where Kenya emulates and copies most public policies; they could get the best on transport concerns.
Did I miss a bench marking tour by the ministry of transport in Kenya?
The jury is out there!

Implementation of progressive inclusive public policies regulations and guidelines will benefit the majority of the disabled.
Its high time policy makers in Kenya held consultations with the disabled persons to understand there needs and see how they can benefit majority.

We need to have proport policies which will benefit all.
The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.

am I a indigenous disabled person Retracing my roots: Author Mugambi Paul.

As I joined the cultural exchange activity during the triple A assembly in Brisbane.
Many thoughts came to my mind.
When one of the tour guides gave me one of the traditional instruments to test.
It reminded me of my indigenous roots as a disabled person.
The tour guide and fellow Australian African award team were mesmerized how I blew the wind instrument with ease.
The thoughts which were in my mind were the lack of water access in 2019 in my rural village while have seen sufficiency of water through out in may stay in Australia.
The land where they don’t have enough water sources like Kenya.
Secondly, I thought of how my community has eroded the culture activities and materials.
I resolved to start a Canberra cultural center which will defiantly bring back my indigenous culture.
I remembered I never so my grandfather whom am named after.
He died as a hero fight for the rights of the people during the colonial era.
Stories are being told of how he never entertained colonial rule.
He was a strong defender of women rights.
Could I have inherited his traits?
I sometimes run away from my passion of advocating for the rights of disabled persons, but I find myself back.
Could this be my purpose of life?
Grandpa just whisper to me!
If he was alive, I believe the Kenya gender story would have been different.
All is not lost.
We as the exposed energetic and intellectually grown up have to rise to the occasion and bring back our culture alive.
For once I thought the aboriginals are related to my indigenous culture.
As a public policy expert am now duty bound to restore the history for the sake of future generation.
Australia celebration of the indigenous cultures and the multicultural events and activities have really restored hope and faith that we can live together and enjoy every one’s cultures.
I believe other expertise is needed to initiate restoration of indigenous culture. More so I will be digging out the indigenous disability culture.
How many fellow Africans are ready to travel the unchartered roots of our cultures?
We need to tell our story no matter the decades and the distorted narratives that have prevailed.The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.

The Blocks to Disability Leadership and the mercantile economy of Kenya Author Mugambi Paul

Should disability leaders give up their work?

What world you do when you are in an office and all documents are inaccessible?
What would you do if you turned up for work and you had to climb a 3-meter brick wall to get into the office?
Ask the Nyeri law courts.
What about if everyone conducted team meetings
using PowerPoint and print materials?
How would you feel if you complained and nobody seemed to care?
The Kenyan public space has basically normalized this habit.
Yet, Kenya is the signatory and has domesticated the UNCRPD.
Kenya is known worldwide to have progressive laws and policies.
Imagine if we would have at list 10 % implementation of accessibility!
Let me give an example of the normalcy which occurs daily.

Some contemporaries of mine went to work the other day.

No big deal, hey. Lots of people go to work every day.

The difference is these colleagues are disability leaders. They are well respected in their various fields and regularly lead the public conversation about
disability. They are somehow not tough people I know, allot much gets in their way.
They mostly forget to bring the cows home by not demanding what’s is rightfully and constitutionally there’s.
!
This is to say, most of the public and private conferences in Kenya are held inaccessible areas.
Mostly, the disability leaders aren’t able to transact their work obligations as expected because the workshops and business areas are normally inaccessible. Very inaccessible. Should I say even the Kenyan parliament is among the list?
A place where the largest minority or marginalized group are supposed to find solace.
Should we continue with boardroom discussion on how to make accessibility real?
Or just continue with our social media rhetoric discussions?
Should we wait for another Kibaki moment to actualize the dreams of our heroes and heroines in the disability world?
Where is the accessibility voice space?
Who should be bringing the sector in to order?
The government and human rights bodies in Kenya “hamwoni hi ni dhuluma?” What I am
particularly annoyed by isn’t the inaccessibility, well actually that does annoy me, rather I’m very annoyed that a bunch of disability leaders have continued this trend to
work expecting to perform at their usual high standard, and they are unable to do so.

Most of them can’t live the venues or have alternative mode of communication.
That’s why in Kenya we are still talking in boardrooms about accessibility.
If one day the disability leaders walked out in protest of inaccessible venues and products it will be the turning point.
Through a social media survey, I actually noted that some disabled leaders aren’t involved by public and private entities into workshops.
They are normally left out and remain in offices.
There bosses tend to claim they are stubborn when they demand for reasonable accommodation.

How many local and international conferences have taken place in Kenya and accessibility becomes an afterthought?

This is a total distress and lack of engagement.
This affirms why disabled persons are not represented in most of the forums and become last to be remembered.

How is that the answer? Should disability leaders be giving up their work, or should conferences and workplaces be more committed to ensuring accessibility?

Newsflash: accessibility isn’t an extra or a nice thing to have, its mandatory if you want disabled people in the room. If you think diversity is of any
value at all then accessibility is part of your regular processes, it’s just how you operate. You budget for it, make it happen, build it in from the outset.
You choose venues that work, and make sure there are rapid responses to any issues that arise. You don’t argue and able plain and put the onus back onto
the disability leader to get less disabled, you take responsibility for making accessibility happen and you fix it quickly when it doesn’t.
which government building in Kenya is accessible for the disabled persons?
Most importantly, you make sure the people designing the access are those who know about access and have professional experience in accessibility.
This means they will also be disabled people. These access experts should be paid for their work, just like your sound technicians and caterers.
Obviously, lack of recognition of disabled experts has been normalized by the system, which we need to break.
and that makes it unusual. Most incidents of inaccessibility happen to individuals, often in workplaces that aren’t supportive or have managers who think
they know better, or they are single barriers affecting individuals at offices, seminars rather than everyone, so we never hear about them.
Mostly when organizers realize their mistake.
They normally result in a formal apology during the final plenary. Unfortunately, most of the disability leaders accept and move on.
Additionally, most apologies do not include a commitment to recruit disabled people onto the organising committee in the
future, nor did they include a reference to the same situation happening at the previous conference and this incident being a repeat.

There are still significant barriers to disability leadership.

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.

Researchers Developing Tech that Allows Blind People To See Through The Eyes Of a Sighted Person u

A team of researchers from Rice University in Houston, Texas is developing technologies that might allow a blind person to see the world through the eyes of a sighted person.
The project will involve sharing visual images between two brains. It will read the vision of a sighted person and transfer the images this person sees into the brain of a blind person “telepathically” in less than 1/20th of a second.
A team of neuroengineers has begun working on a headset or a helmet that directly links the human brain to machines without the need for surgery. This headset and the technologies that power it will enable this telepathic visual sharing.
It works by using both light and magnetic fields to interact with specially reprogrammed neurons in the brain of the wearer. The research team plans to transmit visual images perceived by one individual into the minds of blind patients as proof of concept.
This ambitious, four-year long effort is called the Magnetic, Optical and Acoustic Neural Access (MOANA) project. It’s being supported by $18 million in funding from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
DARPA is interested in the project because of its Next-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology (N3) program aiming to develop two-way interfaces that can transmit data between the human brain and machines.
Sharing visual images between two brains sounds futuristic, but Jacob Robinson, the lead investigator, said a number of recent technological breakthroughs make the idea feasible.
“We have to decode neural activity in one person’s visual cortex and recreate it in another person’s mind in less than one-twentieth of a second,” said Robinson. “The technology to do that, without surgery, doesn’t yet exist. That’s what we’ll be creating.”

Since surgery to implant a device into the human brain can’t be used, the Rice team plans to use a combination of light, ultrasound or electromagnetic energy to read and write brain activity. MOANA will test techniques that employ all three.
Robinson said MOANA’s decoding and encoding technologies will each employ viral vector gene delivery, a technology that’s in clinical trial for treating macular degeneration, some cancers and neurological conditions.
To “read” neural activity, the Rice MOANA team will reprogram neurons to make synthetic proteins called “calcium-dependent indicators” designed to absorb light when a neuron is active or firing.
“Our aim is to capture and interpret the information contained in photons that pass through the skull twice, first on their way to the visual cortex and again after they are reflected back to the detector,” said co-investigator Ashok Veeraraghavan.
The MOANA team includes 15 co-investigators from Rice, Baylor College of Medicine, the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital, Duke University, Columbia University and Yale’s John B. Pierce Laboratory.

OFF MY CHEST: What dating with a disability is really like Guest Author Nicole Mballah

In a world that’s technically built for the able bodied, dating as a differently abled person is doubly hard.
Trust me; I’ve had my fair share of troubles finding love.
Physical limitations are a part of a disabled person’s life, facing countless barriers every day.
We often have a routine to make things easier. When it comes to dating, minor things can require major planning and preparation.
Usually these are the questions that follow suit; where do we get an appropriate taxi? Does the building have an elevator? Does the restaurant have a ramp?
Is it too noisy or crowded to move around freely? All these things and more have to be taken into account.
But it’s not all gloom. I once went on a memorable date with this guy where not once did it fell like my disability played a part or affected him. We were just two people genuinely having a good time talking and hanging out. My disability was not a topic of conversation the whole night; I was simply a woman he was interested in.
BIGGEST OBSTACLE
In my opinion, the biggest obstacle to dating is social perceptions; I always find that people think that those of us living with a disability are either asexual or ‘undateable’.
People often think about how our disability will inconvenience them, rather than trying to consider if the relationship will work. I wish people knew that we‘re like everyone, with just a few barriers.
I’ve done my fair share of online dating and while it was fun at times, I’ve also experienced rejection.
I always try to be upfront about my disability, sometimes disclosing it on my dating profile and including a picture with my crutches into the mix.
In the words of pop singer Anne Marie:
“Love every single part of my body, top to the bottom. I’m not a super model from a magazine, I’m okay with not being perfect cause that’s perfect to me.”
My dating life has been bitter sweet. I sometimes meet men who are uncomfortable with my disability, stopping conversations once they find out or having to answer strange questions about having a disability, like ‘Can you have sex?’ and the outright weird that go ‘You’re too pretty to be disabled’, to potential dates who thought it was weird if they liked me.
While also meeting guys who accepted my disability, assisting me whenever I needed it, simply moving chairs out of the way at restaurants, just being helpful without it being too much.
Even if those dates didn’t turn out to be long term relationships I learnt valuable lessons, for every person that rejected me for my disability there was a person who didn’t.
If you reject someone with a disability, you might be forgetting that we all might have a disability in some way, it might not be visible so don’t assume to be superior.
Dating with a disability is always a challenge, whether it’s online or going on a blind date.
Don’t be afraid to make a connection. There is no correct way to do it. Don’t let the rejections get you down that’s just a part of life.
If you’re honest about who you are and what you want; there is always a door full of possibilities waiting to be opened.

Should I openly identify as disabled? Guest Author Christina Ryan

Should I openly identify as disabled?
Guest Author
Christina Ryan

Without role models culture won’t change.

One of the perennial topics of conversation in the disability community is whether someone should openly identify as disabled in their workplace. It’s a thorny issue and for good reason.

So, many people with disabilities have made the decision to openly identify and then experienced serious consequences, even losing their jobs over it. Of course, you can’t be sacked specifically because of your disability, there is legislation in many countries to prevent this, but you can be made to feel very very unwelcome and decide to leave. Many people have stories to share about themselves or about colleagues in the disability community.

Employment rates are low for disabled people, retention rates aren’t much better. What can we do to avoid the constant recruitment trap? Losing staff and constantly needing to recruit is hardly the solution, there must be other ways to build disability workforce so that we are also building disability leadership.

Recently I’ve been talking with disability leaders about being role models in their workplaces. Given that most people with disabilities are not visibly disabled this is a big ask. Yet it’s crucial to have senior role models so that culture changes and so that new recruits can see what is possible for them in an organisation. This is the “be what you can see” strategy. This strategy has worked increasingly well for women and for Indigenous peoples over the last couple of decades. We need to start using it for employees with disabilities as well.

Unfortunately, this places enormous pressure on disability leaders when they have already pushed very hard to get where they are, and just want to get on with being another employee, not a crusader.

Why must individual disabled people put their careers and financial security on the line?

Being part of a network, having peers at your level, and being part of a broader professional disability community (like the Disability Leadership Institute) are all contributions to how you can be supported if you decide to openly identify. However, none of these will prevent discrimination or ableist responses. Networks may provide assistance in knowing you are not alone and help with sharing solutions, but they don’t change the attitudes of others.

Of course, many people do not have the option of choosing to disclose as we are readily identifiable. In some ways this makes it easier as we don’t live with the anxiety of being exposed or choosing to make the decision to be open, but in other ways it makes it much harder as the prejudice starts before we even get in the room. We are left out of invitations or excluded from new projects because it is assumed we aren’t the best and brightest. All without someone knowing anything about us, except that we are disabled.

There is no easy answer, if there was we wouldn’t still be having the conversation.

People with disabilities are all different. As the single largest minority on the planet today, we are not generic, we are incredibly diverse. Our community is highly intersectional. Our one common thread is our disability and the prejudice and exclusion that it brings. Unfortunately, many of the responses to disability in the workplace are generic, rather than built round the individual, and this compounds the barriers to achieving career success and leadership positions.

We can’t shift the culture until we have critical mass, we won’t achieve critical mass while the culture remains as it is.

We need disabled people in far greater numbers in the public domain to achieve the culture shift that is desperately needed. However, this won’t happen until we are in a wide variety of positions and fields in strong numbers and openly recognised for our contribution to local, national and global leadership. People with disabilities are already in many of these places but are not openly identifying as disabled because the risks are so high, and why should they?

Why the Blind in Kenya were duped on money identification! Author Mugambi Paul

Before reading any further, close your eyes, reach into your purse or wallet and fish out 1,000 Kenyan notes.
What comes in your mind?
Can’t do it? You now know what currency discrimination feels like.

Currently, over one million blind and vision impaired Kenyans depend on someone else — a family member, friend, cashier or bank teller — to identify the
denomination of each notes for them before they can organize their money to spend themselves.
How many Blind and vision impaired persons have been duped?
The latest statistics even includes the Daughter of the head of Africa infrastructure Rose Odinga.
Furthermore, central bank of Kenya had great aspirations, but they were also duped.
To put matters into perspective the real Blind and vision impaired persons were not engaged.
Thus, lack of public participation.
who is the disability rep on the central bank of Kenya board?

I observe that, there are sighted teachers who have served in Blind schools for more than 2 decades and they don’t know braille or interest in adaptive technology.
Additionally, there are persons working in the disability sector and they don’t know what reasonable accommodation nor universal design is! This is the root course of current acceptance of mediocre leadership in the Kenyan disability sector at large.
This is also coupled with the charity-based model where the disabled person is offered a token to justify the service.
I affirm that due to this most public and private sector will claim they don’t have the capacity while they have not granted the disabled a chance.
Casing point is the employment opportunities
.
No wonder even the Blind and vision impaired persons are the most highly discriminated in job advertisement.
For example the Kenya national youth service, police and army.
Why does the Kenya society underestimate Us?
Did the Kenyan blind and vision impaired Peak bodies speak out?
Did the any human rights body speak out?
The jury is outside.

During the Madaraka 2019 what the Blind and the vision impaired persons were meant to celebrate the newfound love of government commitment to accessibility as per the constitution
2010 and the UNCRPD on matters universal design was not achieved.
Although we got a token of the cash notes having different colours.

I know some of you will justify that we the “Blind and vision impaired” should accept the token.
This is not going to happen.
I foresee the Blind and vision impaired persons arising and demanding for better access of the money identification.
The small bit done for different notes on colour is highly appreciated.
The Central bank of Kenya should realize the advantage of accessible cash it’s not for the blind only, but it will assist the highly tech young persons, veterans and those facing eye problems.
As public scholar and my passion for advocacy I have evidently seen how the engagement of persons of concerns makes policy implementation easier.
Its now upon the central bank of Kenya and the blind sector to ensure we have accessible notes through consultations.
Can the real Blind and vision impaired persons stand up?
The central bank of Kenya needs to include a disability research component in its works.
Will the 2 Kenyan sleeping giants in the blindness sector arise and stand to be counted?

All in all, I opine, the blindness and vision impaired system in Kenya doesn’t just need to be ‘reformed’. It needs to be broken down, dissected, & re-built from the ground, up.
This will happen when the Kenyan Blind and vision impaired persons unite and have a common voice!

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.

Why the Kenyan census 2019 remains a mystery to the many poor and disabled Kenyans! Author Mugambi M. Paul

Over 1 billion people globally, including 494 million in Sub-Saharan Africa (roughly 45% of the population), lack government-recognized proof of identification [UN 2017.] This hampers their access to critical financial and social services and raises barriers to exercising political and economic rights. Obviously, several studies have shown that lack of desegregated
data among the disabled persons has greatly impacted negatively towards lives of the disabled community [world bank 2011].
According to [KBS 2009] Kenyans with disabilities make up 3.8 %.
However, these statistics are debatable and disabled persons organizations have argued that proper mechanisms were not in place.
Will the 2019 August census in Kenya be different?
The answer lies on the shoulders of the Kenya neural of statistics.
They have been able to adapt the Washington set of questions, but this will be put in to test during the data collections.
However, in the development of the censor’s committees still disabled persons organizations nor the county disability officers are not represented.
This is a great setback of ensuring inclusivity and raising the voice of persons with disabilities.
The policy makers need to adopt measures urgently at the ministry of interior to ensure disability representatives are added. This should not just be for quantity but provide quality and real representation in public participation.
Additionally, the county governments need to be keen on what the data of persons with disabilities mean in matters of service delivery and enhancement of proper support for persons with disabilities ]2010 Kenyan constitution]. It’s prudent to mention that the county governments are the service providers in their own counties.
persons with disabilities and thee organizations need to knock on the county government to ensure that the census collected becomes meanful in service delivery and planning.
At list a third of the counties have enacted county disability laws but are yet to implement.
I take note that Persons with disabilities face several challenges in receiving identification documents and presenting these documents to access services.
There is no exact information to show how many disabled persons have received particular government or private sector services.
What is emerging clearly as a public policy scholar I uphold Kenya should adapt to data driven analysis.
is in order to fight poverty.
Thus having need evidence-based thinking and plenty of good data.
The Kenyan census should be huge part of this phenomenon. Although it can be easy to overlook, it’s actually incredibly important because this data will inform the Kenyan government decisions that will shape millions of lives.
Recognizing this, I believe Kenya has a chance of its new census data to be more accurate, comprehensive, and granular than in the past. Will the Kenya beural of statistics switch to digital tablets? Will the Kenya bural of statistics use satellite imagery to make sure households in rural areas don’t go undiscovered and uncounted? The jury is out there.
I look forward for a disability desegregated data at the county levels.

I trust The government is now seriously committed to a “leave no one behind” ethic, which means counting every single person in the population. That includes people who are sometimes called “the invisible” — those who live in slums, disabled persons , who are homeless, or who are institutionalized.

These people are harder to reach, but without counting them and identifying which places they’re concentrated in and which services they lack, it’s difficult to design targeted interventions that will actually help them. Kenya and other African countries are increasingly treating this kind of data-driven approach as crucial to their development.
The Kenya bural of statistics must adapt many new ways which Kenya is leveraging data. That includes a biometric national ID system the so called Hudumanumber. (more than 30 million Kenyans have registered for it so far.
I suggest that Kenya adapts a digital address system (whereby every five square meters in the country will have its own unique address).
This way government can target services to people, once you know where they are.
How do you count “the invisible”?

Kenya’s census will take place in August 2019 for 3 days not a lot of time to survey a population of approximately 50 million people. But I believe the preparations begun well in advance, and this time, they will include a lot of help from new technology.

For the first time, will the enumerators use digital tablets to survey the population?I opine that through this they will be able to have answers to be checked for inconsistencies or omissions in real time. Will the Kenyan bural of statistics use Electronic maps?
This will help enumerators make sure they’re counting everyone in their demarcated area. GPS will pinpoint and record the exact location where each interview will be conducted.

Meanwhile, will the Kenyand government officials use satellite imagery to identify all housing structures in the country?
I affirm that if the enumerators go out into the field, an image showing which locations they’ve covered will be overlaid on top of the satellite imagery.
This will allow the officials to determine which areas may have been missed.

Usually it’s in rural areas, enumerators may not have known people are living there.
The Hudumanamba enrollment should be a wake-up call before the census begins.
Most developed and developing nations are increasingly looking to leapfrog challenges with traditional ID systems by moving to digital identification systems through the use of new technologies. Kenyan government has not been left behind since it’s a leader in digital Enovation in Africa.
The Kenyan government has introduced Hudumanamba system for its all citizens and the diaspora populations.
Digital identification systems are attractive to governments due to potential benefits of universal coverage and unique authentication. Were persons with disabilities, organizations for persons with disabilities consulted on the process?
It seems the government of Kenya denied its citizens the public participation
And say on this agenda. This has led to a court case making it voluntary to register for Hudumanamba.
On the other hand, Kenyans who need services might find themselves at catch 22 when the hudumanamba services will be rolled out.

Digital identification systems use a range of technologies include biometrics scanners, facial recognition, artificial intelligence, and other emerging mobile technologies.
The rapid moves towards digital identification systems raises both opportunities and challenges in ensuring that persons with disabilities can register for, receive, and use their unique identification. Will the disabled persons stop using the disabled cards?
Will the registration of newly disabled persons be conducted after the Huduanamba registration?
What’s the link between the registration for disabled persons and the hudumanamba roll out?
It seems the Kenyan government still stand accused of enhancing bureaucracy towards achievement of vital services to persons with disabilities with this unlinked processes and procedures.

Hudumanamba card is speculated it will offer alternative mechanisms to ensure that the lack of breeder documents (e.g. birth certificates) do not hamper individuals’ abilities to receive important credentials and open pathways to receiving economic and social services. At the same time, they need to be carefully designed to ensure accessibility and inclusion. Some of the Problems that emerged during the Hudumanamba registration included when persons with disabilities were unable to provide biometric data. e.g. due to lack of an iris or fingerprints), algorithms did not recognize certain facial features, or most hudumanamba centers fail to provide accessible accommodations and exceptions.
For instance, lack of alternative formats for the information, which was being gathered to the Blind, vision impaired, intellectual impaired and the Deafblind,
Another example is the inaccessible venues for the hudumanamba registration.
This was also coupled by Lack of staff training, and awareness of disability issues.
Furthermore, many disabled persons allegedly reported mistreatment during the process.
Thus, having significant challenges in the process of registration.
Will the Kenya bural l of statistics take lessons for the upcoming census?
The jury is outside!
All in all, the globe is embracing the digitalization of government services.
Disabled persons are not to be left behind.
Solution is to ensure we have inclusive policy and regulations
Thus, enabling the policy implementation to cater for the needs and priorities of disabled persons.
The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.

THE CHALLENGE OF MAKING IT IN KENYA AS A BLIND MAN! Guest Author Reuben Kigame

Allow me to be candid. I am blind and it is hard making it in Kenya, no matter how qualified, gifted, blessed or otherwise. I am not talking about the usual things one has to contend with every day such as stereotyping and stigmatization. I am talking about having everything you can have with regard to qualification and abilities but not going very far; why? You are blind. I mean, you cannot see; and that is a problem. I am not talking about affirmative action – which, by the way does not exist – but about having all you can have and still having to count on God alone to make it in life. I am not suggesting that there is another person to count on besides God, but that you realize without God it is not worth living here.
I apologize for what you are about to read in advance, but if it will help someone understand something, I will have achieved something. This is partly my motivation for being part of the prayer to hand over Kenya back to God next week. So, please bear with me and be patient with me as you read, because tonight, I am not sure whether I am in the body or out of the body, God knows.
So, what does it feel like being Reuben and being blind in Kenya? First of all, people talk to you through other people, assuming that, because you are blind, you also cannot hear. They will tell my wife who is right next to me things like, “Tell him I have said hi!” or, “Tell him I like his songs! … …!” It used to get to me. Now it does not, and I just laugh it away and chuckle back, “Please tell him/her back for me that I have said hi! … …!” It is equally assumed that because I am blind, if there is one seat in a place, my wife or daughter should not have it because they can see, and I can’t. So, if I tell my wife to have the seat as I stand, she is looked at as unkind and unthinking. Reason? To be blind is also to be unable to stand as your wife or daughter sits. I have been the talk of Eldoret when I have gone jogging or shopping with equal measure. But all this is child-play compared to what you are about to read. Let us talk about employment first.
It was early 1987 when I asked for a short-term teaching job at Ebusiloli Secondary School after completing my Form 6. I was denied the job. They kept me waiting. They finally told me to call my dad so they could talk to him. Need I say anything more? I did not get the job. Someone else was hired. Being in Vihiga County, I could partly understand why, when running for office to be its first Governor in 2013, although I beat all the odds and made it to the ballot, some of my opponents had very bad things to say by way of convincing the voters that they should vote for them instead of me. One of them from my own Bunyore village literally undertook campaigning for Moses Akaranga and made everyone around him and wherever he went believe that I did not even know how to count money and so I would not be able to handle the county funds … It is too much to entrust billions to a blind man; they would be stolen and he would not even know where to start handling economic issues. Another told people that I would not be in a position to assess any projects because I would not be able to tell even how a good-looking house is from a bad-looking one. … In short, it was equally easy to steal my votes because I did not even know how to count ballot papers. I swallowed it all, complete with the numerous promises of Vihiga pastors and bishops that they would vote for me because I was a Christian like them, and then … the rest is history.
When I lost the election, I called Moses Akaranga and conceded defeat. I told him that if he needed me, I would be willing to share my agenda with him. The only time he reached out to me was by proxy inviting me for a meeting where he was to meet with “disabled persons” in Vihiga at Mbale. What was he going to do? Just give them some food and they tell them that he cared for them. In short, I did not go. I told the person who was inviting me, two days to the event that I will not come. I would only go if there was agenda. I felt insulted and I feel he insulted persons living with disability.
Let me fast-forward to the day I finally wanted to get married after college and had done everything except for the buying of the rings. I then took Mercy to the jeweler at one of the shops in Nairobi. First, the staff did not want to talk to me because they were busy serving other customers, mark you, including those who kept coming after me. I finally grubbed the courage to insist on being served next and so was reluctantly asked, “What do you want?” I said I wanted to buy some wedding rings. I was asked if I was the one getting married. I said “yes.”
“There are many different types … 100, 200, 300 and some more expensive. …” said he as he walked away to serve another customer.
I insisted, “Do you have any others?”
“Yes, but they are quite expensive, like diamond, gold, mixed, pure, many, many, many.” He walked away again.
“I want a pure gold ring,” I said.
He was quiet. I repeated myself. He then just said, “They are very expensive.”
To cut the story short. I ended up buying the most expensive rings he had left and I could hear that I was the talk of the street as I left, shocked. I cannot even recount how many times I have been denied the opportunity to check out a cooker or stereo, just because they believed I could not afford or did not understand what I was buying. As a young high school teacher, I remember the shock people had at the store where I went to buy my very first television set. It was drama.
When I was remarrying, I saw drama. A friend of mine kept telling me that he did not understand how I as a blind man could manage to get such a pretty girl with dimples like Julie! Implications? I qualify for those who look less attractive. By the way I do not even believe that those thought to be less attractive are actually less attractive. It is their opinion. Then a pastor calls Julie and tells her that he would counsel her by herself because I did not need counseling myself. When we went to see the pastor who would then marry us and showed him our self-composed vows, Julie’s were shorter than mine. He made the remark, “Usually long vows indicate that someone has something to hide!” Should I say more? I am not sure whether I am in the body or out of the body. God knows.
Fast-forward again to the recent past. About two years ago, the Public Service board of Uasin-Gishu County advertised for a position on their Agriculture and Mechanization board which needed to be filled by a person living with disability. Because of my gubernatorial interests before, I had got a lot of acquaintance with Agricultural and mechanization matters and quite a bit of experience from my media days in matters to do with human resource management. I went for the interview and, according to some of those who interviewed me, I actually did exceptionally well. Believe you me, to this day, I have never ever heard from Uasin-Gishu county about this; not even if I flopped.
I recall too, running a coffee house at Zion Mall in Eldoret. My café was broken into three times and, with all the CCTV cameras and guards at the mall, to this day, nobody has ever been apprehended, not to mention that at the point of leaving the premises, out of sheer frustration, I came to learn that my competitor at the mall was being charged almost half of what I was asked to pay in rent. What can one say? Why was that the case?
Then in 2014 I visited Hon Mandago at his office and shared with him my proposal to expand my small music school in Eldoret so that I could serve more Uasin-Gishu youth with music and performing arts skills including trying to get street children off the street by teaching some of them how to play music instruments. He was excited and even said he would bring his own child to train. He indicated that they would do something small by the end of that financial year. I have waited since 2014 till now, 2019. I have not stopped doing the little I can. But it showed me how valuable I was in a county that continues to allocate money year after year for projects. I quietly learned that this was Kenya for me.
I am sharing this, not to embarrass or offend anyone, but to call for a turn around. After shutting down Fish FM in 2015, it was hard for me to go back to radio again. Indeed I never knew I would desire to be involved again. Although I had the experience of fifteen years then, nineteen now, in broadcasting, nine of those years running a station whose license took six years to get, I saw an advert at a Christian radio station where they needed a Manager. I applied. They acknowledged receipt of my application, but to this day, I have never heard from them; not even a regret. When I moved to Nairobi recently for studies, I asked for a part-time radio presenter position. They asked for my papers and indicated I was qualified and needed. That was the end. I emailed! I texted! I called! Nobody would answer my emails. Nobody would pick my calls. Nobody would respond to my texts. With my country Music experience, I have applied to several Nairobi stations wanting to do for them a Sunday evening Country show. My applications are received and that is the end. Never mind that besides KBC, I was the next person in Kenyan radio to introduce country music, and that on Christian stations, beginning with Family FM back in 2001. I have been ignored, even though, I think I am the first blind man in the world to start a radio station and run it for that long. My MSc in Journalism and Media Studies does not mean much any time I mention it in interviews.
My most recent radio attempt experience came after a gentleman travelled all the way from Thika to Eldoret to slash his girlfriend to death. I contacted one of our big stations requesting to do a family talk show at night to help address the rising homicides and relationship challenges. They asked me to send in a proposal and concept. I did. That was the end. The boss of the station would not receive my calls. He would not respond to my texts. In short I was ignored. …
Several years ago, as a musician and producer, I developed some exceptional jingles for Radio Citizen. They just received them and then went quiet. Forever. Everybody around me thinks they are great. Not them. This is not an audio platform. I would have posted them here for every one of you to judge. Never mind that I did some jingles for the station when they were starting about twenty years ago, and despite using them for several years, I never received a single cent from Royal Media. I have talked to staff at the Standard Group asking for the same position for the talk show. The response is the same.
Let’s return to academic institutions. I prepared courses for a Christian University in Nairobi last year for the launch of their M.A. in Apologetics degree. I developed ten courses in general in a booklet of about 40 pages. It was received and then they went quiet. I know many of you already know I was supposed to be teaching this semester at a different university from the one I have just mentioned – St Paul’s. I interviewed for the job and then the university went quiet after allocating me courses. This is in spite of following up.
Let me close for now by sharing about trying to reach our leaders in government. I guess it is possible for everyone else except me. When preparing to have the first fundraiser for our ministry bus last December, I asked a friend of mine who works with one of the County Governments to request the Deputy President, His Excellency William Ruto, to kindly consider being our chief guest. He said he would request him, they are friends. He then just vanished, would not answer my calls anymore and would not return my texts. He then called and suggested we try and get Mama Rachel. I got excited because Mama Rachel has been to our home, their daughter and my daughters went to the same school. Mama Rachel used to be my travel agent at one point. So I got excited. That was the end. When I finally got the urge to just pick up my phone and call her myself, of course, there was no answer. I texted. No answer. I called a few days later and a lady picks the phone and when I introduced myself she said it was not Mama Rachel’s number and they did not know who I was. I checked with mutual friends if I had the wrong number. They confirmed it was the correct number. I left it. … Twice when singing at State House, the president has indicated he would want me to visit. I then took the liberty to write and request him to be our guest. My letters reached but that was the end.
I have been swindled by several people in this country. I take the matters to lawyers and they say they can help. That is usually the end. I have been in the music ministry for 32 years, but still had to buy my car through a loan. I just had to abandon the fight for my millions of shillings literally squandered by the Music copyright Society of Kenya whose directors now wallow in untold riches as I struggle just to raise enough to go to school, again because organizations such as the National Council of Persons With disability will not hear a thing about helping with funding my education. Not the master’s programme and now not the Ph.D. programme. I struggle so hard in a country where Safaricom makes millions from my music but pays me peanuts after sharing more of my money with go-between groups that will not even give statements for the monthly incomes. The bosses at PRISK and KAMP eat a lot of my sweat every month as I slowly slide into my old age. …
Perhaps the saddest of all my struggles as a blind man in Kenya is with the Church. Let me write it here so that nobody will say they do not know. I go to minister at a Mombasa church for two days about two years ago and I am given an honorarium of kshs15000. In the last meeting, it is announced that the next week one of the musicians I will leave unnamed, from Nairobi, will be at the Church – for an afternoon – and that the church should help raise one hundred thousand shillings for her. I know churches in Nairobi by name that are prepared to pay Tanzanian musicians kshs200,000 or kshs300,000 for a concert, and the musicians will come and sing over a Cd, merely showing their faces, but when I come to minister with a team of 25 or 30 people, I am given twenty thousand Kenya shillings for my fuel to and from Eldoret and for the transportation of the rest of the team. When one raises the question why such affluent churches do this to me and not to the other musicians, I am told I am becoming money-minded. That is not true. The difference is, the others are not blind and I am. Blind people are paid little, you see! Or shall we just say, the other musicians look better than me! Or not?
I will not even go into churches in Nairobi telling me to the face that they do not charge for concerts and we even have to talk for long about the permission to take an offering to help us with expenses, after we have made the concerts free for everyone. … Again, I am not sure whether I am in the body or out of the body. God knows.
One day, most of these who avoid me now, will hear I have died. Then they will rush to form WhatsApp groups to raise money for themselves, say I used to write good songs or even buy me a nice coffin that looks good on cameras so that it can be said they honoured me and gave me a good send-off. If I do go before any of you, please save your monies. There will be plenty to eat from my music and books, anyway, after I am gone with nobody to stop you.
In other words, that is Kenya for me. That is the Kenya that ignores me while thinking I have so much that nobody should care to do what is right for me. This is the Kenya that says it enjoys my music and even uses it on public holidays at stadia as the Police or Army bands play song after song. This is the country with organization after organization, budget after budget that would make a big difference, but alas! This is the nation with so many opportunities that are thrown at you every day, but you never touch a single one. We have to fight tooth and claw looking only to God as resources are stolen every day. Sometimes it is tempting to just leave the country for those who deserve it more than me! Forgive me for such a long post. I have left enough out and just pledge that I will not bother you on this topic again. … It is enough what has been done to me. Please don’t do it to others living with any disability!

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.

Why the disabled in Kenya should stop reading lamentation Author Mugambi Paul.

Generally speaking, Kenya is facing deteriorating standards an alarming trend and of service delivery to persons with disabilities.
Of course, Recently, there has been lots of reports of rights violations of disabled and more so among girls and women with disabilities. Some of the atrocities have ranged from rape, inflicting gross bodily harm, to murder.
Noticeably, Disabled persons organizations and social media users have broadcasted the information.
What next?
Another example is a case of
a lady 20 years, made National News after she gave birth at Uhuru Park. The previous night having been kicked out of her lodging in Muthurwa for failing to pay half US dollar. She could not even afford a tenth of a US dollar to use a public toilet when she resorted to be at the park and there, she had her baby. All heathy as the dailies in Kenya reported.
How did we find ourselves here?
For how long shall we have the broken system in place?
Disability policy makers should have an ardent call to adjust their belts and raise the alarm.
This is by fastening the legislative agenda and pushing for real implementation and oversight of the current laws.
Additionally, in our pursuit to champion for the rights and equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities, ensuring their safety in the society
must always take predominate position.
This is well articulated in the ]UNCRPD 2006[which Kenya has signed and ratified.
Historically, I can vividly remember the great promises that successive governments have made since I was newcomer in the movement. Thus far we are still advocating for the same. For instance, we were told in the early 2000 inaccessible of buildings will be a thing of the past.
Yet many infrastructure projects still do not observe the standards even after the gazettement 2015.
theoretically speaking Kenya has great policies but poor implementation.
This is not to say attempts have not been done to save the situation.

However, it seems the government and the disability policy makers are still engaging in pull and push game.
Why aren’t we represented in the building bridge initiative?
Why aren’t we represented at the independent election and boundaries commission?
This clearly shows the low expectation exhibited by policy makers on the capacities of disabled persons.
Its high time the disabled persons enjoy the national cake not just to take the crumps
Should the disability policy makers change tact?
I observe that during 2018 global London summit Kenya marketed itself as a leader on disability mainstreaming and inclusion.
Nevertheless, the top brass leadership din’t take the lead like the UK counterpart.

Observers expected the Kenyan presidency to take the lead.
It is imperative that the disabled persons and policy stakeholders stands firm and retrieve the lost glory and dreams of the founders of the disability movement in Kenya.
In most developed nations there is a cabinet secretary assigned to handle the exclusively the disability docket.
The latest entrant is Australia.
Where the Liberal MP Stuart Robert will enter cabinet as the minister for the NDIS after the scheme was taken out of the social services portfolio.

Should the disability sector be moved to the presidency?
The jury is out there.
Should the policy makers become innovative and engage more disabled persons?

Apparently, the lack of factual information among the disabled population leads to misinformation and low demand of actual rights.
Furthermore, most decision makers are based in the Nairobi city thus lack of involvement of the rural disability sector.
Most Kenyan policy makers use top bottom approach in decision making.
Moreover, the lack of economic resource has made disabled persons to be vulnerable.
Thus, often taken advantage of.
This is by either accepting to receive poor services or suffer in silence.
Its high time disabled persons in Kenya stopped lamentation.
The focus should be on self-advocacy and knowing the rights.
As individuals and institutions, we all are aware of the barrier’s persons with disabilities face.
They include lack of support systems in place. Poor resourced government services. Lack of representation in the workforce, private sector, low literacy rates among disabled persons,
Inaccessible building and infrastructure.
Lastly,
Low legislative agendas among parliamentarians with disabilities. Etc.
Kenya is arguably, the most unequal society.
According to world bank report 2018 43.6 of persons in Kenya live below the poverty line.
Obviously, disabled persons are triple affected.
It is high time we restored dignity and decency among disabled persons.
One way is by adopting universal basic income to all persons with disabilities.
This will promote economic independence among the largest minority group in Kenya.
This is because it will be a game changer by restoration of dignity on lives of disabled persons.
instead of the current cash transfer system which targets a few individuals with severe disabilities.
As a scholar I believe Inclusion of people with disabilities creates a strong economy by enabling a diverse community contribution which drives future growth.
Why do we have well written policies with poor implementations?
This can happen when disabled persons realize that it’s not the disabled leaders who are the problem.
The problem is individual disabled persons who doesn’t want to take responsibility of self-advocacy and engaging in systematic advocacy.
Of course, This is what the disability leadership has taken advantage of.
The disability leadership knows that the true liberation of disabled community will happen when many more self-advocates have taken their positions
Meanwhile the disabled persons organizations have to live to the promise of transparency and accountability in order to be the real watchdog of government institutions serving persons with disabilities.
This agenda should start among the disabled persons organization membership and structures.
Additionally, the legislators with disabilities have to change by living to the call of being leaders.
Being a leader calls for constant interaction with the disabled people. Listening to the citizens forms the basis of representation and legislation.
This will aid the parliamentarians to lobby and advocate for economically viable legislations to reduce the economic inequalities experienced by 99 % of the disability population in Kenya.
Together we can create new opportunities for inclusive economic growth with benefits for everyone in the community, as well as the person with disability, who may become a customer, client, employee, student, team member or holidaymaker at your organisation, sports club, business, shop, restaurant or rental property.

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.

Scientists Discover How Blind People Know So Much About Appearances guest author Sarah Sloat

The philosopher John Locke, who believed that true knowledge of the world could only stem from sensory experiences, thought that blind individuals could never understand the concepts of light and color. Locke, it turns out, was wrong. In a recent PNAS study, blind people demonstrate that they do understand what sighted people process through vision, proving that “visual” ideas don’t actually require sight.
In the study published Tuesday, scientists demonstrated how blind people make visual sense of what they cannot see. While previous studies suggested that the most efficient way for a blind person to know that, say, a flamingo is pink, is to memorize that fact, this study demonstrates that blind people instead look at the world like scientists and make sense of the visual world through a catalogue of clues.
“First-person experience isn’t the only way to develop a rich understanding of the world around us,” co-author and Johns Hopkins doctoral candidate Judy Kim explains. “People often have the intuition that we can’t know what we can’t see.”
This intuition is wrong, as Kim and her colleagues showed by testing 20 blind and 20 sighted adults, all around 30 years old, about their knowledge of animal appearances. The participants were asked to order a variety of animals by size and height and to sort the animals into groups based on shape, skin texture, and color. They were also presented with a group of animals and asked which one was not like the others.
The study design.
In most cases, the sighted and blind people performed equally well on the test. They sorted the animals in predominantly the same way, and both agreed on which physical features comprised the predominant description of each group of animals. For example, both blind and sighted people described dolphins and sharks to be of similar shape.
What the two groups disagreed about the most was, strangely, the factor that the researchers hypothesized would be the most agreed upon: Color. Sighted participants sometimes had trouble describing the shape of an animal, but they always readily provided its color. Blind people did not. This outcome refuted the “learn-by-description” hypothesis, which posits that blind people learn about objects by hearing the way other people describe them. If this were the case, then the blind participants should have been able to identify color easily, since sighted people seem to always include color in their descriptions.
But color is what blind individuals were least able to identify. And so, the researchers argue that the “learn-by-description” hypothesis must be incorrect and that blind people must gather visual information in a different way: By deducing it from existing knowledge about an object and details related to it.
“In the absence of direct sensory access, knowledge of appearance is acquired primarily through interface, rather than through memorization of verbally stipulated facts,” the scientists write.
How would you describe “pink” without having seen pink?
In other words, blind people take the scientific approach and infer appearances through other properties like taxonomy and habitat. This strategy works well for features like shape and textures; for example, birds have feathers and wings, so it’s implied that this holds true across bird species. Color is less easy to infer. Since there are a lot of animals that are the same color, it’s hard to deduce that, say, bears and ravens are black, based on the other things you know about animals.
But color inaccuracies aside, the research proves what blind people already know: You can have a rich and accurate sense of the world without actually seeing it.
And sometimes, the approach blind people take actually helps them be more accurate. Here, 55 percent of the blind participants and 20 percent of the sighted participants said that sharks have scales; the majority of that group said they have skin. In reality, sharks have fine scales — they are just difficult to see.
Abstract:
How does first-person sensory experience contribute to knowledge? Contrary to the suppositions of early empiricist philosophers, people who are born blind know about phenomena that cannot be perceived directly, such as color and light. Exactly what is learned and how remains an open question. We compared knowledge of animal appearance across congenitally blind (n = 20) and sighted individuals (two groups, n = 20 and n = 35) using a battery of tasks, including ordering (size and height), sorting (shape, skin texture, and color), odd-one-out (shape), and feature choice (texture). On all tested dimensions apart from color, sighted and blind individuals showed substantial albeit imperfect agreement, suggesting that linguistic communication and visual perception convey partially redundant appearance information. To test the hypothesis that blind individuals learn about appearance primarily by remembering sighted people’s descriptions of what they see (e.g., “elephants are gray”), we measured verbalizability of animal shape, texture, and color in the sighted. Contrary to the learn-from-description hypothesis, blind and sighted groups disagreed most about the appearance dimension that was easiest for sighted people to verbalize: color. Analysis of disagreement patterns across all tasks suggest that blind individuals infer physical features from non-appearance properties of animals such as folk taxonomy and habitat (e.g., bats are textured like mammals but shaped like birds). These findings suggest that in the absence of sensory access, structured appearance knowledge is acquired through inference from ontological kind.

The two Sleeping blind giants in Kenya: author Mugambi Paul

Reading the annual general meeting invite by the Kenya society for the blind gives a familiar script.
The process and conduct of doing things seem to be usual.
No logical or pragmatic turnaround of event.
The Kenya Society for the Blind is a statutory charitable organization established in 1956 by an Act of Parliament this institution is meant to guide, offer technical support to matters Blindness and vision impaired to the government and stakeholders.
Has Kenya society for the Blind lived to its promises envisaged in the 1956 at?
What is the role of government in ensuring the Blind and vision impaired persons live to exploit their potentials?
Did the government escape duty and obligation to the blind and vision impaired persons?
When shall we have the updated Kenya society for the blind act to meet the current issues faced by the blind and vision impaired persons?
The act needs to be aligned with the Kenyan constitution 2010, UNCRPD, Public ethics act and public participations act.

This is not to say that nothing is happening.
As a matter of fact,
Kenya society for the blind has held several charity activities geared towards education of the blind pupils.
Additionally, there are many grey areas on matters Blindness and vision impairment in Kenya.
Its either the Kenya Blindness sector has decided to be dormant or the system has refused to change.
For instance, in matters governance even with known lawyers we aren’t able to differentiate the roles played by board members and staff.
This is totally uncalled for and review needs to be done urgently.

This seems to be a common practice among the disabled persons organization in
Kenya. With this notwithstanding, in matters programming several issues can be raised.
What are the pros and cons of having car garages in the premises?
How many blind and vision impaired persons have gainfully been absorbed by the new ventures?

Several studies and social media posts have continuously demonstrated this behavior.

https://m.facebook.com/groups/782290015159886?view=permalink&id=1860411574014386&refid=46&__xts__%5B0%5D=12.%7B%22unit_id_click_type%22%3A%22graph_search_results_item_tapped%22%2C%22click_type%22%3A%22result%22%2C%22module_id%22%3A8%2C%22result_id%22%3A%22100000309023349%3A1860411574014386%22%2C%22session_id%22%3A%2294af8b3a8130b8cd80ffb146320fa7d7%22%2C%22module_role%22%3A%22FEED_POSTS%22%2C%22unit_id%22%3A%22browse_rl%3Abab2c8d9-58c6-03bb-6970-555f4984237d%22%2C%22browse_result_type%22%3A%22browse_type_story%22%2C%22unit_id_result_id%22%3A1860411574014386%2C%22module_result_position%22%3A0%2C%22result_creation_time%22%3A1539597936%7D&__tn__=%2As
secondly on face value the Kenya union of the blind is supposed to be the voice of blind and vision impaired in Kenya.
theoretically, Kenya union of the blind is mandated to be bold and grant the self and systemic advocacy initiatives among the blind and vision impaired persons.
It’s an institution where the blind and vision impaired persons can be able to become self-advocate.
It is also a platform
For engagement with government and stakeholders.
Can we claim the blind and vision impaired persons are self-advocates?
Is there a mentorship and leadership practice?
Where is the status implementation of marekesh treaty??
In matters governance Kenya union of the blind stand to be condemned for its status.
Am not surprised that the largest blindness organization in Kenya has the same chairperson for the last 30 years.

To make the matters worse
The chairperson was appointed as a commissioner in a state organ which is also supposed to play an oversight role on disability matters in the country.
This is a true example of conflict of public interests!
This discussion is held in low tones in the disability sector.
Am not flabbergasted when the Kenyan blindness sector has not experienced significant reforms for its current and future generations.
The barriers faced by blind and vision impaired persons have been compounded by the sleeping advocacy organ.
It seems the mediocre practises are in the Kenyan DNA.
Several researches have shown how many blind and vision impaired persons have low esteem combined with the restrictive environment they have lived.
This affirms why most individuals with disabilities are not able to advocate for themselves.
On the other hand, the disabled persons who seem to advocate for themselves are treated as riles or individuals who are outcasts.
Its high time the Kenyan blindness sector arose from slumbered and demonstrate with collective and unifying voice life will be better for present and future generation of the Blind and vision impaired persons. A clarion call is be stalled upon individuals to show the light.
As Martin Niemöller a prominent Lutheran pastor in reference to the Nazi regime, once said;
“First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out; because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out; because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out; because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Furthermore, there has been rise of new entrants in the Kenyan blindness sector.
In other words, the new kids on the block in the blindness and vision impaired sector need to take lessons from the 2 sleeping giants.
This will aid effective engagement and bring the blind and vision impaired persons to their rightful place.
The Kenyan government needs to establish an oversight agency to ensure the Blind and vision impaired persons do not become vulnerable under this circumstance.
Its clearly known that there are no support mechanisms in place to support blind and vision impaired persons.
The 98 % of the blind and vision impaired individuals are just survivors in Kenya.

some recommendations to the Kenya society for the blind and Kenya union of the blind.
1. Put the house in order by reviewing the ACT of 1956. By public participation and engaging policy makers.
2. Review the governance and regulation policies.
3. Conduct a self-surgery before the reforms take place. To demonstrate this, we Kenya used to have telephone booths later on Mobile took over. We used to have tined cooking oil now we have rapped and plastic cooking oils.to bring matters to perspective, Kenya society for the Blind used to advocate for persons with albinism. Things changed drastically and now persons with albinism left the Blind and vision impaired wagon for better tides.
All in all, the future is bright for the blind and vision impaired persons.
As a public policy scholar on diversity and inclusion I will strive to contribute by rearing many more disabled persons to be their own best advocate
I have recognized that as a blind person, if you know the laws and understand your rights you are the most authentic spokesperson for yourself. Thus, much of my work is now cut out
It doesn’t matter the time, but we are heading there.
Advocacy is one of the most important reasons for me to connect with disabled people and their families. When I do, I will teach them that they are not alone,
I will empower them with the tools to raise their own expectations, and I will connect them with an unparalleled network that will be a lifelong resource for them
to continue to be strong advocates for themselves.

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.

Life took her eyes but with gifted hands sky is the limit Guest writer LISA MUGUND

d her two children as she adjusted to her new life. She recounts that it was the darkest point in her life. She had studied orthopaedic, plaster and traction techniques at the Kenya Medical Training College but now the course was irrelevant, since she needed eyes to earn from the skills. Her brother enrolled her for vocational training at the Machakos Institute for the Blind.
It is here that she studied Shiatsu, a Japanese massaging method. It uses no oil and the patient is fully dressed when being attended to. It is a deep-tissue method of massaging to help heal common ailments and to correct imbalances in the body.
It is through this that Ms Tumaini found her niche. After graduating, she got an internship at a spa, where she mastered work with real clients and finally secured a job. She now gets all types of clients with various ailments. Some have back problems, others have muscle and joint pains. The ailments show in the form of headaches, stress, anxiety, constipation, fatigue, digestive disorders and joint pains.
HOUSE CALLS
“People think massage is a luxury, but it is a very important therapy that has transformed people’s lives”, she said. “I have treated patients unable to walk upright because of aching backs, after a few sessions of therapy they walk upright and are in no pain.”
Ms Tumaini said that what she does should be classified under the medical department and not seen as a luxury because she transforms people’s lives, just like doctors do.
What she lacks in sight, she makes up in touch. Ms Tumaini said that she is able to fully focus on her sense of touch to feel a patient’s pressure point and where muscles are stiff, thereby paying more attention to the areas.
Her greatest challenge is not knowing the location of her client’s home when doing house calls.
She walks with the aid of a white cane and needs a guide at times to help her cross roads or walk on paths she’s not familiar with. Sometimes she asks for assistance from strangers on the road.
Some flatly tell her that they are in a hurry and therefore cannot guide her, others are usually willing to help. Sometimes such challenges result in her getting to her client late, and she has been sent back for not keeping time. Some strangers have taken advantage of her situation and led her to the wrong place. Someone even drugged her and attempted to rob her but she screamed her lungs out when she started feeling weak and realised his intentions. She was rescued by the public.
WHITE CANES
She has to work extra hard to get money for the upkeep of her children as well as their school fees.
Ms Tumaini would like the government to create employment for the blind because many are well educated but do not have jobs.
“People think the blind can only sell sweets or beg in the streets, but there’s so much we can offer,” she said.
She would also like to request the government to bring down the cost of white canes.
“They are very expensive and not everyone can afford them. The cheapest costs Sh3,000. These canes are our identity in society and they guide us when we are walking alone,” she said.
Does she feel sorry for herself? “Not at all”, she answered. “You know the difference between a blind person and one who sees is the perception of light. As long as your brain is functioning just right, there is nothing a blind person cannot do. We can even pass thread through a needle!”
She believes the first step for people who find themselves in similar circumstances is to accept that it is now part of their lives and find a way towards healing through counselling. Support from family is also very important. She also urges parents to children with special needs not to hide them in their homes or separate them from other people. “Their children have so much potential even in their state. Just support them and find a way to help them be independent, feel loved and confident in themselves. They will surprise you what they can do,” she says.

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

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.
Email:globalyouthagendake@gmail.com