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.

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

“Open letter to the Newly NCPWD chair” Mugambi Paul

“Open letter to the NCPWD chair”
Mugambi Paul

This letter is sent to our newly Chair of the NCpwd:
Dear sir,
Kenyan persons with disabilities
want the same opportunities as everyone else in the community – somewhere to work, somewhere to live, somewhere to enjoy the company
of family and friends, the chance to follow their passions and interests. We want NCPWD that makes these things possible – not stands in their way.

Using the ideas that have been collected for the last 15 years.
I have come up with the three C’s: three useful targets to help get the NCPWD
back on track. 1. Control

Kenyan persons with disabilities must be in the driver’s seat. It is their experience and their views that must determine priorities and drive change. Choice and
control must not be undermined or restricted by poor policies and processes.
For instance, it should no longer be business as usual for the Blind and vision impaired persons to receive brailed version of vision 2030 after a decade when it was out.

No disabled representative is at the building bridge initiative! Persons with disabilities must be empowered by their experience in the NCPWD, not further disempowered
and marginalised. And above all we want good outcomes for everyone –not just those who are educated, or well-resourced or who have an advocate.

So how do we make this happen?
list of 5 items
• Quicker, simpler and easier processes. Simple and plain communication that is easy to understand, more so for persons with developmental disabilities and Deafblind etc

• More help for people, families and carers at every stage of the process including application for assistance, peer support and advocacy

• Fully functioning and fit for purpose IT system that works for both consumers and producers of disability services at the county and national levels.
participants and providers

• Focused and resourced attention on groups who need more support – such as those with complex needs, severe disabled persons, Blind and those who have never been hard.

• More staff to clear backlogs. And competent well-trained staff with the right experience and expertise
Additionally, a 51 per cent disability employment target across all levels of the NCPWD including senior leadership. Currently
just 25 per cent of the NCPWD workforce have a disability.
Furthermore, on the public service I believe more needs to be done to stop the disability community
being shut out of public sector jobs
.
The 5 % has the target did not go far enough, given the consistent decline of employees with disability
in the sector.
According to public service survey 2015 Kenya has not yet achieved even 1 % target of employment opportunities to persons with disabilities.
I opine that targets needed to be supported by a comprehensive strategy to address the “unacceptably low” employment rates of people with disability
across the APS and in mainstream employment more generally.
A Kenyan National Jobs Plan to fix systemic problems that people with disability face finding and keeping a job.

This plan would include measures to strengthen the transition of young people with disability from school into tertiary education and mainstream jobs,
and would integrate with the social security system to support people with episodic disability moving in and out of employment.
Moreover, a whole-of-government and whole-of-community approach is needed to enable employers to create meaningful, flexible and inclusive employment, make workplaces
more accessible, remove discrimination and build positive employer and community attitudes.

2. Certainty

Persons with disabilities, their families and carers want to know the NCPWD will be there for them when they need it. Those who have made applications want to know
services will be there when and how they need them. And for those who do not have an assistances, other programs and services must continue. No one should be left
without support because Kenyan government can’t get it together.
Instructively, Kenya has been on top from the global disability forums that no one should be left behind.
So how do we make this happen?
list of 5 items
• Full funding should be enshrined in the upcoming national and county budgets and persons with disabilities 2019 bill

• Active support and intervention to make sure people have a diverse range of quality services to choose from. Intervene early to prevent failure and lock
in crisis support so no-one falls through the cracks

• Independently let NCPWD become policy formulator and a facilitator instead of an implementor.
For instance, immediate action on the way NCPWD works with other systems like health, justice and transport. All levels of government must sit down and work out how to synchronize services instead of making disabled persons to suffer.

• Greater develop and resource of the Information, Linkages and Capacity Building program. This will ensure NCPWD funds the disability persons organization to further efforts of advocacy instead of fighting each other.

• New timeframes for entry into the NCPWD, plant and equipment approvals and plan reviews;

• More help for people to navigate the NCPWD and get their assistance plans into action including more support for advocacy; and

• Targeted outreach for people who require additional support such as children, people who are Blind, psychosocial support and or Culturally or
Diverse backgrounds.
list end
but also initiate or restoration of other programs and services
that support people with disability, their families and carers
list end this should be reflected in the county and national levels.

3. Community

The NCPWD was never intended to work in isolation. The gap in life outcomes between those with a disability and those without will never close without action
in all areas of life – employment, health, education and transport are all areas that need immediate action.

So how do we make this happen?
list of 3 items
• Greater attention and resourcing to the Kenyan National Disability Strategy

• Immediate action on employment, education, housing, transport and health. Targets must be set – and met.
More so the big four agenda.

• An immediate timeline for a board of trusty’s actions in issuance of
funding

I observe that All across the country persons with disabilities
, their families and carers and people who work in the sector have been holding formal and informal forums in the social media, mainstream media and public forums. events and coming together to demand
urgent change.
Obviously, many policy makers know what’s need to be fixed but they aren’t doing so.
As the chair you need to listen to us. After all, people with disability and their families know what is and what is not working when it comes to the NCPWD –
and we know how best to fix it.
Scholars and researchers have recommended
The disability persons organizations should join together with a government and work collaboratively so we can get the ncpwd working well for everyone who needs it.
This is very true in many countries.
NCPW is a body mandated to promote and protect equalization of opportunities and realization of human rights for disabled persons in Kenya to live dignified live.
as a public policy scholar, I affirm that and There is no question that when the NCPWD works it absolutely changes lives. We see its life-changing power every day. But, for too many people, the NCPWD
is not working well. It is too complex and too bureaucratic – and as a result some people are falling through the cracks while others are missing out altogether,
we know of some truly heartbreaking stories of people who are really being let down by the NCPWD. There are people with disability waiting two years
for a wheelchair, there are persons with disabilities waiting for the disability card for 7 months, there are blind persons awaiting a braille display but told to have a white cane etc
There are families pushed to breaking point without essential support for their child. There are people hospitalised as a direct result
of the stress of trying to work their way through a bureaucratic nightmare.

“Situations such as these cannot be allowed to continue. That is why, today I have written this letter. calling on the new chair to
listen to persons with disability and commit to getting the NCPWD working the way it should – the way it is mandated in respect to the UNCRPD, SDG and the Kenyan constitution.

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 White Cane Initiative: Kenya Chapter 2019 Author Mugambi Paul The

The White Cane Initiative: Kenya Chapter 2019
Author
Mugambi Paul
The White Cane Initiative began because of much-needed awareness and the usage of the white cane. I composed a song titled “Heshima kwa fimbo yangu” (Respect to my White Cane) https://youtu.be/GK6glYgAeZQ, that spoke to the challenges that blind persons faced in their day-to-day activities, and spoke to how I lost my sight and the friendship I had with my whitecane. Additionally the song spoke to the myths and perceptions that the society had about the cane. As a result , a lot of blind and visually impaired persons who listened to the song could relate to it. During my travels, as well as working in the disability sector for 15 years, I observed that there was a great need for white canes in Kenya. There was a famine of white canes in Kenya as my fellow blind, and visually-impaired persons were unable to access the vital tool for their basic independence, or they could not afford it.
I reached out to some of my friends abroad i.e. the United States and we partnered together in the first white cane initiative in Kenya under the slogan “empowering the blind one cane at a time”. The partners in this initiative were YouCaneGive and Global Cane Outreach who donated 110 refurbished white canes and 100 Solar Audio Bibles. We have received various testimonies from the recipients who have encouraged me to continue with this initiative moving forward. The white cane initiative is a dream come true for many blind and vision impaired persons. The real problem of blindness is not the lack of eyesight but is the lack of vision. The little efforts that we put in is what can change the world to become a better place.
You can click the following links for learning and experiencing the change we have created in the 4 Kenyan counties.
Machacoes:
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10217076459082220&id=1190686054&_ft_=mf_story_key.10217076459082220%3Atop_level_post_id.10217076459082220%3Atl_objid.10217076459082220%3Acontent_owner_id_new.1190686054%3Athrowback_story_fbid.10217076459082220%3Aphoto_attachments_list.%5B10217076456602158%2C10217076457042169%2C10217076457762187%2C10217076458282200%2C10217076458802213%5D%3Astory_location.4%3Astory_attachment_style.album%3Athid.1190686054%3A306061129499414%3A2%3A0%3A1556693999%3A8568530399303578739&__tn__=%2AW-R
Nakuru:
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1998293986936171&id=100002667666698&_ft_=mf_story_key.10217068959454734%3Aog_action_id.1998294010269502%3Atop_level_post_id.1998293986936171%3Atl_objid.1998293986936171%3Acontent_owner_id_new.100002667666698%3Athrowback_story_fbid.10217068959454734%3Aphoto_attachments_list.%5B1998291053603131%2C1998291033603133%2C1998291066936463%5D%3Astory_location.4%3Astory_attachment_style.album%3Athid.1190686054%3A306061129499414%3A75%3A0%3A1556693999%3A7495601036524555917&__tn__=%2AW-R

Nairobi:
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10217068790730516&id=1190686054&_ft_=mf_story_key.10217068790730516%3Atop_level_post_id.10217068790730516%3Atl_objid.10217068790730516%3Acontent_owner_id_new.1190686054%3Athrowback_story_fbid.10217068790730516%3Aphoto_attachments_list.%5B10217068789010473%2C10217068789250479%2C10217068790050499%2C10217068790490510%5D%3Astory_location.4%3Astory_attachment_style.album%3Athid.1190686054%3A306061129499414%3A2%3A0%3A1556693999%3A-8519785920628349930&__tn__=%2AW-R

Machacoes:
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10205428937319947&id=1745452292&_ft_=mf_story_key.10217075899788238%3Atop_level_post_id.10205428937319947%3Atl_objid.10205428937319947%3Acontent_owner_id_new.1745452292%3Athrowback_story_fbid.10217075899788238%3Aphoto_id.10205428937119942%3Astory_location.4%3Astory_attachment_style.photo%3Athid.1190686054%3A306061129499414%3A75%3A0%3A1556693999%3A-1233903009151495747&__tn__=%2AW-R

Kiambu county:
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10217099831906526&id=1190686054&_ft_=mf_story_key.10217099831906526%3Atop_level_post_id.10217099831906526%3Atl_objid.10217099831906526%3Acontent_owner_id_new.1190686054%3Athrowback_story_fbid.10217099831906526%3Aphoto_attachments_list.%5B10217099830466490%2C10217099830786498%2C10217099831186508%2C10217099831706521%5D%3Astory_location.4%3Astory_attachment_style.album%3Athid.1190686054%3A306061129499414%3A2%3A0%3A1556693999%3A-5361897547406216858&__tn__=%2AW-R

Extra:1. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10205441659878003&id=1745452292&_ft_=mf_story_key.10217105414806095%3Atop_level_post_id.10205441659878003%3Atl_objid.10205441659878003%3Acontent_owner_id_new.1745452292%3Athrowback_story_fbid.10217105414806095%3Aphoto_attachments_list.%5B10205441657837952%2C10205441658157960%2C10205441658437967%2C10205441658717974%2C10205441658997981%5D%3Astory_location.4%3Astory_attachment_style.album%3Athid.1190686054%3A306061129499414%3A10%3A0%3A1556693999%3A3820456666630458741&__tn__=%2AW-R
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10217107469497461&id=1190686054&_ft_=mf_story_key.10217107469497461%3Atop_level_post_id.10217107469497461%3Atl_objid.10217107469497461%3Acontent_owner_id_new.1190686054%3Aoriginal_content_id.10205441619757000%3Aoriginal_content_owner_id.1745452292%3Athrowback_story_fbid.10217107469497461%3Aphoto_attachments_list.%5B10205441618036957%2C10205441618276963%2C10205441618676973%2C10205441618876978%5D%3Astory_location.4%3Aattached_story_attachment_style.album%3Athid.1190686054%3A306061129499414%3A2%3A0%3A1556693999%3A1515605197040728562&__tn__=%2AW-R
Nairobi:1. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10217105329723968&id=1190686054&_ft_=mf_story_key.10217105329723968%3Atop_level_post_id.10217105329723968%3Atl_objid.10217105329723968%3Acontent_owner_id_new.1190686054%3Athrowback_story_fbid.10217105329723968%3Aphoto_attachments_list.%5B10217105328083927%2C10217105328523938%2C10217105328963949%2C10217105329483962%2C10217105449166954%5D%3Astory_location.4%3Astory_attachment_style.album%3Athid.1190686054%3A306061129499414%3A2%3A0%3A1556693999%3A-2994047387046062815&__tn__=%2AW-R

2.https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10217113412446031&id=1190686054&_ft_=mf_story_key.10217113412446031%3Atop_level_post_id.10217113412446031%3Atl_objid.10217113412446031%3Acontent_owner_id_new.1190686054%3Athrowback_story_fbid.10217113412446031%3Aphoto_attachments_list.%5B10217113410045971%2C10217113410365979%2C10217113410965994%2C10217113411606010%2C10217113412246026%5D%3Astory_location.4%3Astory_attachment_style.album%3Athid.1190686054%3A306061129499414%3A2%3A0%3A1556693999%3A-2700505564964681280&__tn__=%2AW-R
For further inquiry or if you wish to donate to this cause, you can reach me on my email info@mugambipaul.com or shamgpaul@gmail.com

Ableism and being ableist Author Mugambi Paul

Before you read this please keep in mind: my goal is not to demonize or shame people. A lot of the ableism I have encountered since I lost my “eye sight on 27th October 1997” are things
others with vision loss have been working to fix for generations. My ableist behaviours that I wasn’t aware of in the past can hopefully serve to open other
people’s eyes (blind pun unintentional). It was privilege that allowed me to ignore my lack of knowledge.
I used to be a shy and easy to inculcate ideas.

My goal here is to help and highlight ways that can become steps to build change. I hope that we, together, will be working towards understanding how us
actions and words establish an environment that puts up barriers, destroys ambition and steals independence.
Through this we can promote social inclusion.
What is being ableist or ableism? I will let you go to Urban Dictionary for a far better description than I could probably come up with:
https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Ableism
.

Who does it? I know I have, my family, friends and of course random strangers do it. How does someone stop themselves from doing it? We, we can start
by not making assumptions, by asking questions, and recognizing that the person with the disability is the expert on their situation.

This is a huge subject, just like racism, sexism or any other form of bigotry – there are overt and covert ways it occurs. I don’t know enough to point
out all the different ways it happens. This paragraphs post isn’t going to be nearly long enough to cover more than some of my experiences (because that’s
what I know). Taking that in account, I want to explore it, make people aware and maybe stop someone from offending a person just because of their incorrect
assumptions.

Quick examples:

list of 5 items
1. It’s the person that thinks you can’t do something because you have you can’t see or have other ________ disability.
2. People that assume that when you blind you can’t even hear!
3. The person that just starts “helping” without knowing what you are doing or are able to do.
4The subtle and not so subtle ways people treat you differently.
5The people that think they are just more capable at doing things because you have ______. blind
6 The people that are sure they know a cure for my Blindness______.
list end7. Actors and comedians, MC
‘s who act as Blind or other disabled individuals!

check out Nairobi Memoires and get the life time experiences recorded in 2015 2016

I know what I am capable of (most of the time) and at times acutely aware of what I can’t do. Part of learning to adjust to living with a disability is
figuring that out and building solutions to make stuff work for you. It is sometimes a real challenge to find an issue and then coming up with a solution.
Everybody with a disability or impairment does this, even those who discover that the best option for them is to choose not to do something.

On any given day, in the city of Nairobi I have been grabbed by strangers (at least twice) in an attempt to give unwanted and misguided assistance. They grab my arm to guide me, grab
my cane to steer me and try to pull me into the street while I am waiting for the light to change.
One day my Whitecane brokedown after the push and pull!
Sometimes people have good intentions but at list communicate!
Recently I was chosen to be part of a focus group. Sometimes even in the job market when they see a blind or vision impaired person, they assume I couldn’t participate. Sometimes not given a chance to display the skills They thank me for my time and
sent me on my way. As someone that is Public scholar, I believe we have a long voyage.
, this reminds of what I will have to deal with.

Learning, problem solving, and dealing with a world not built to be accessible is hard and at times overwhelming. Then, you work through it and next time
it is hopefully easier. Having people that assume you can’t don’t make it any easier. Just dealing with people that make my mobility difficulties worse
can be exhausting. Finally, there is actually doing things I want/need to do.
I thank Canberrans for their humbleness and understanding.
You are guys from another planet.
I admire the communication when we meet.

To the Nairobians, the next time you encounter a person with a blind and vision impaired, don’t make any assumptions. Some of us have undergone through a pretty extensive training on using a white cane,
crossing a street and orienting ourselves while travelling.
Thanks to vision Australia and guide dogs am confident and I am able to travel with ease.

The same goes for people with hearing, physical, mental or any other disability. In some ways the folks with invisible disabilities have a much more difficult
existence. You look like you aren’t disabled to other people but meanwhile you are trying to find ways to make a world not designed to be accessible to
bend, and to not be a barrier to doing the things we want/need to do.

At the same time, about privilege. Some people have lived their lives without a vision impairment my way of adjusting may appear different
than someone that has dealing with this for years or a lifetime. None of it is wrong, the way you respond might be. Judgement, assumptions, and lack of
knowledge is what I feel are the greatest barriers.

Mugambi Paul is a public policy expert in diversity and inclusion.

People with severe mental illness left behind in Disability sector in Kenya Author Mugambi Paul

According to the WHO 15 % of a population are persons with disabilities.
Yet many persons with severe mental illness are not yet recognized by different government service providers in Kenya.
Many persons with severe mental illness are treated us outcast and negative perceptions compound this group. While significant advances have been made in Kenya over the past 5 years to address the stigma associated with high prevalence mental disorders
such as depression and anxiety, people living with complex mental illness such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder still report experiencing high levels
of stigma and discrimination.
According to bloggers with severe mental illness and concerne advocates many are sent away when seeking to be registered or acquire government documentation.

Lots needs to be done in order to ensure persons with invisible disabilities are registered and not denied opportunities.
disabilities
the disability persons organization and stakeholders working on the mental illness need to streamline the registration assessment processes.
This is needed to prevent thousands of people with psychosocial disability
– those with a functional impairment stemming from serious mental illness – being left without appropriate support.
More commitments need to be made by the Kenyan government especially by having an updated
Mental health act and development of regulations.
Both county and national government need to commit that that no one will be left behind. People with severe mental illness and their families who are yet to be registered
need some assurance, sooner rather than later that they will have opportunities to participate in the disability related services.
As a public policy scholar, I o opine that There have been long-held concerns that people with severe mental health issues were falling through the gaps of the disability sector. Moreover, the psychosocial organization need to take lead and ensure malpractices are waded out. This is by way of helping in developing eligibility requirements for registration etc.
This can be done by empowerment of county organizations and the self help community groups.

The mental illness organization need to enhance their advocacy role.
This is by taking the advantage of the international disability agreements like the UNCRPD and closer the African protocol on persons with psychosocial disabilities.

All in all Of course, reducing stigma and discrimination is only one step towards ensuring that all Kenyans experiencing mental health issues have the opportunity

for a long and fulfilling life.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.

Joy and pain of raising a child with cerebral palsy By a Guest author: SIMON MBURU

When Susan Nyambura’s son was diagnosed with a developmental disorder immediately after birth, her husband abandoned them. Six years later, she soldiers
on.

“My name is Suzan Nyambura. I am a mother of a six-and a half-year-old boy. I still remember how my then-husband and I had eagerly waited for the birth
of our son, Gabriel Kamonzo.

In fact, the sheer ecstasy that overwhelmed me when I first took a pregnancy test and got positive results in early 2012 is still deeply etched in my mind.

I had a smooth pregnancy up until I went into labour that September. I checked in at a private hospital in Mombasa for delivery.

By then, my water had already broken. I was immediately admitted to the hospital’s maternity wing. Over the next two days, I underwent an extensive and
excruciating labour process.

WORRY, PANIC

The doctors examined my birth canal and concluded that I had not dilated enough. At some point, I requested for a caesarean delivery. But my request was
turned down. The doctors said I was not an emergency case.

I seemed stuck in labour. Painful but unfruitful contractions kept coming and going. But eventually, on September 12, I gave birth to a bouncing baby boy.

Seeing my baby pop out erased all the pain, struggle and shame that the labour and delivery process had bestowed on me. Tears ran freely down my cheeks.
At long last, here was my beautiful God-given son!

This joy, though, did not last. In fact, it ended as soon as the doctors started to examine my son moments after birth.

Instead of a sigh of relief and congratulatory glances, I saw worry and panic on their faces. Their facial expressions betrayed their concern that something
had gone wrong.

EXAMINATION

Then it hit me like a thunderbolt. My son had not cried upon birth! Although I was a new mother, I had heard that newborns were supposed to cry once they
popped out.

Failing to cry was an indicator of a defective birth process. I desperately tried to inquire what was wrong. But I was reassured that all was well.

I was told to stay put and wait for my episiotomy stitches. This was really the least of my concerns.

Later on when I left the delivery room, I was informed that the doctors had taken my son to the nursery, where they were examining him.

They found out that Gabriel’s neck was abnormally weaker. This was compounded by his failure to breastfeed when they brought him to me.

Over the next one week, I fed him on glucose and warm water while the doctors sought for a diagnosis to his problem.

DIAGNOSIS

On October 7, 2012, I was transferred to Coast General Hospital. By then Gabriel was 10 days old.

The doctors recommended that we observe him over the next three months and see if his neck would firm up. But it didn’t.

By the third month, I took him to Kenyatta National Hospital, where he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. This is a medical condition that affects a child’s
muscle tone, movement or posture.

It is caused by brain damage that occurs before or during a baby’s birth, or during the first three to five years of a baby’s life. This diagnosis left
me utterly terrified and confused.

My baby was so tiny and helpless! Yet, the more I inquired about his condition the more scared for his life I became.

I was afraid that he would develop breathing problems, have no control of his bladder and bowel movement, and drool throughout the rest of his life.

ABANDONED

Perhaps I would not have worried too much if someone had held my hand and told me that it was all going to be okay.

But there was no such person I could have leaned on! Friends kept away, and some of those who reached out claimed that my baby was cursed, and that I needed
to take special prayers and cleansing to cast out whatever spell had befallen him.

The most disheartening of all was the abandonment by my baby daddy. He said Gabriel was not his son.

Although I had named my son after his father, he completely rejected him after the diagnosis.

He claimed that he could not have fathered a child with such a disability. Over the next few years, I tried to reach out to him because I wanted my son
to have a father in his life. But he shut us out completely.

#TOUGH TIMES

It is now six years since my son came into this world. We are still on the recovery journey, but raising him has not been easy at all.

There are some days when his condition becomes too overwhelming for me, especially when he is unwell.

I cry a lot and at times question God on why my little boy has had to suffer so much. It really breaks my heart when I see him struggle to meet basic development
milestones.

His growth is very slow. Today, he can’t sit on his own and relies on a wheelchair. He also can’t talk or even walk.

But perhaps the hardest and most tormenting moment is when I am unable to provide food because I am joblessness.

I remember that I had to start working as mama fua (laundry and cleaning lady) in order to fend for him a few weeks after his birth.

#HEALTHCARE

It was not easy. I was forced to go knocking door-to-door asking for home cleaning jobs with my ailing son strapped on my back.

A few weeks ago, I left my son behind in Nairobi and travelled to Mombasa, where I am currently looking for a job as a bouncer.

I have pegged my hope in God that something will show up and give me the much needed income so that I can sufficiently care for my child.

He is currently not undergoing any medication or therapy, and I would wish to enrol him in a corrective physical, occupational and speech therapies that
will help improve his life.

Above all, I have learnt to keep my head above the water by constantly reminding myself that this is my son, and God had a good purpose for giving him
to me.
Every day, I pray for him. I hope one day he will realise just how much I love him, and how much he means to me.”

What James Macharia and the building industry need to know about housing for all Author Mugambi Paul

What James Macharia
and the building industry need to know about housing for all

When CS of transport and infrastructure James Macharia grabbed headlines, last week claiming to implement the 1.5 % housing levy. Several questions came to my mind as a public policy expert on diversity and inclusion.
Will the housing plans be accessible, how many persons with disabilities will benefit from the scheme? No regulations regarding accessible housing have been put across.

, it showed a clear lack of awareness about the situation facing people who need accessible housing.
A quick and random call among persons with disabilities soon clarified that accessible housing is a rare commodity in Kenya.
Housing finance and real estates in Kenya have not taken any concrete measure to ensure even at list wheelchair accessible houses.
A negligible
Number of persons with disabilities have modified and customise an existing home if they need accessibility features.
Homes in the area are often high-set, or have stairs to the entries, or might have a feature like a sunken lounge.
I opine that It’s all about the space inside, and whether it is possible to navigate it easily.
When policy implementors put in mind the accessible needs, they aren’t doing for persons with disabilities but it’s for all. this is because the accessibility features will help in future. policy implementors need to plan for mobility-friendly home for
present and future occurrences. Some suggestions include:

As well as a level path to the entry, step-free entry and wide doorway, they look for features like a place under cover outside or inside near the front door to park and charge an electric mobility scooter. This is also not always easy to find in homes on the market.
Sadly, the situation in Dickson is not abnormal
But Nairobi is not unusual in having a dearth of dwellings suitable for those with accessibility requirements such as disability, age-related health issues, being on crutches following injury or grappling with infernal contraptions for conveying small children in and out of their property.
Nairobi is typical – and that is a major problem.
There are some moves afoot to change the way new homes are built – and more on that shortly – because the bottom line is that more inclusive and user-friendly housing that incorporates basic universal design would ensure homes work for just about anyone.
For people with disability, the lack of dwellings that meet basic Livable Housing Design Guidelines can compromise full participation in both economic and social life.
Importantly, the Kenyan disability sector has been silent on this critical concern. Notability, housing it’s one of the big 4 agenda by the president.
This shows how the disability stakeholders have not engaged sufficiency with the government and the building stakeholders.
There is lack of existing data on accessible housing and also ownership of homes by persons with disabilities.
Moreover, there are no guidelines or regulations on accessible housing nor available information on the current Kenya disability strategy.
The challenge is to policy makers to rise to the occasion and guarantee basic and accessible housing for all.
Additionally, there are specific difficulties and barriers created by the lack of affordable and appropriate housing near employment.
A lack of affordable, accessible housing directly affects employment opportunities including where a person can work, hours that they can work, access to training and promotion as well as all the social activities that come with being part of a workplace.
According to the United Nations, over three quarters of Africa’s population is under 35. Kenyan youth is over 20 per cent of the population — higher than
the world (15.8 per cent) and Africa (19.2 per cent) averages.

Kenya has the highest youth unemployment rate in East Africa. Youth inclusion into construction is imperative not only to employment security, but also to curb
the increasing social spiral into crime that unproductive and disenfranchised youth are vulnerable to.
It is prudent for policy makers and stakeholders realize that People with disability, like everyone else, need to have easy access and proximity to their places of employment.
“This includes ensuring there are strong and well-planned links between accessible housing, accessible public transport and an accessible built environment such as footpaths, premises and availability of accessible facilities such as toilets.
This is a challenge to the legislatures in both national and county governments to take the bull by its horn and ensure accessible housing policies are being developed and executed.
There are even barriers to engaging with the property market.
“Where employed or not, whether housing is being sought for purchase or in the private rental market, people with disability face numerous barriers to have our housing needs met.
“It is extremely difficult to find rental properties that are both accessible and affordable.” A blind client
Informed us. The county governments need to zero rate taxes for persons with disabilities in order to uptake ownership of property and building houses.

This is because It is also difficult to access funding and/or approval to make the necessary modifications to rental properties.
“The appalling experience by the Blind client is sadly a common experience for many people with disability.
“Many of us face difficulties in finding accessible housing in close proximity to our work and we often face highly restricted choices in where we can live. The experience also highlights the poor attitudes and a lack of understanding that still exists within the community as we navigate and negotiate our way around a largely inaccessible environment.”
How far off is industry on delivering accessible housing for all?
This is still a pipedream to attain the 500.000 houses by 2022.
I believe if the government and policy makers can have a consensus from government, property developers, and advocates for older people and people with disability for basic access features to be rolled out in all new homes by 2025.
We are likely we will get there.
The basic design features for minimum universal design features such as a level point of entry to the dwelling; step-free showers that allow for seated use and toilets in a ground floor bathroom with room to manoeuvre; wider doorways and corridor widths should have a focus of establishing a Kenyan Building Codes Board.
The board should pursue research and endeavour to produce quarterly reports on accessible housing for all.
While wheelchair users as a specific group of people with disability are a small proportion of the population, I affirm that the accessibility features are also important for people to age in place.
Social housing is not the answer for all people with disability, as there are those who have well-paid jobs. Parliamentarians with disabilities, for example, are often in full-time employment and earning incomes that allow them full independence. There are also many livings with other family members in a family home
All in all, the house building industry has not “come to the party” of its own volition on delivering universal design features as a standard product.
Hence the need for changes to the construction code to make it happen.
Real estate is generally resistant
Private Real estate are reluctant to include access features even when asked.
“If you engage an architect for a custom build then yes, you can get level access to the alfresco,” she says.
The reality is accessible housing ready to move into simply isn’t easy to find – and even when a home is accessible, there is no easy way for buyers to identify those properties.
I also take note that Many builders also see providing disability-friendly housing as a Kenyan government responsibility.
There are also an attitude older people should be moving into specifically back to the rural places not expecting the mass market to cater for their changing needs.
However, with the statistics showing that around 35 per cent of households include a person with a disability, this is a mass market need.
“That’s a big chunk of the population.”
The lack of accessible housing also impacts who can visit a dwelling. many people “just put up with it” when they realise a family member or friend cannot visit their home due to an un-navigable entry or internal features.
The lack of interest in delivering accessible housing also means there are few putting thought into design for accessibility.
Good design doesn’t mean there will be “ugly” grab bars everywhere as many people think.
“It doesn’t need to look like a person with a disability lives there.”
The reluctance to make accessible design a basic and universal part of dwellings is not an outrageous demand on the industry.
I observe that We already have so many universal features such as walls, roof and windows.
It is not a stretch from these types of universal features to making accessibility standard so that more homes are useable by more people across their lifespan.
“It’s not rocket science. [These features] are already included in many high-class homes in Kenyan surbabs. technical problems have already been overcome.”
As to the argument the accessibility features will cost more – which was a feature of the builders–Any added cost is due to the need for subtrades to change the standard practices, and in going back and undertaking re-work where they have done things in the usual “cookie cutter” fashion and failed to deliver specified universal design features.
I call it the “hump cost” – the initial adjustment required to get the industry onboard with doing things slightly differently.
Ultimately, accessibility in housing is just about “thoughtful design and useability for the maximum number of people.
The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or 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.

organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.

Why the Kenyan Disability sector is yet to celebrate Uhuru in 2019: Author Mugambi M. Paul.

Why the Kenyan Disability sector is yet to CELEBRATE Uhuru in 2019:
Author Mugambi M. Paul.

The third eye on Disability policy implementation in Kenya 2019
In recent past, Kenya has been a global leader in developing and advocating for better disability policy framework. This is well articulated on the contributions made to the African disability policy framework, UNCRPD resolutions etc
Yet much is to be achieved in local policy development and implementation.
background:

In a chronology of events demonstrates that it has not been an easy ride for Kenyans with disabilities.
This is because the enactment of the
persons with disability act 2003 took place after the 3rd president was involved in a grisly road accident and took oath of office on a wheelchair.
Furthermore, the Kenyan disability policy has ever remained in draft formats.

All these indicators show It has been a tumultuous journey to have a repeal of the act or even actually develop a strategy of ensuring the realization of the rights of disabled persons in Kenya.

Actually, more than 20 versions of the amendment bills have been put across for the last 14 years.
This is not to say some sort of change has not taken place though it’s a snail pace.
, some piecemeal amendments have been achieved.
For instance, the sign language recognition.
With this notwithstanding, several questions policy makers have to ask themselves.
Who will actualize the implementation of beautiful disability global policies in Kenya?
When will persons with disabilities in Kenya receive and access services without overburdening them? when will the Wanjiku with disabilities stop facing surmountable of challenges in accessing services?

Short term reforms
Some of the actions taken after advocacy include:
Development of
action plan on accessibility 2015
gazettement of adjustment orders, participation on Kenya report on the implementation of UNCRPD 2015etc.
Additionally, in 2018 the ministry of labour has an interagency implementation of the resolution of the global summit held in London 2018

All these actions by the different policy makers are aimed at creating a more inclusive society that enables Kenyans with disability to fulfil their potential as equal citizens.
It is also the main way Kenya implements the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Kenya, making sure people with disability can participate in all areas of Kenyan life.
As a public scholar I suggest the interagency organ of the ministry of labour develops a strategy which can address the existing gaps for policy implementation and enactment of 2020 disability act. It will be a great relive for many persons with disabilities.
If the interagency is offered the necessary resources and support, it can have development of a long-term strategic plan which can become a shared commitment by national and county government to work together to improve the lives of Kenyans with disability.
The interagency can guide governments and
other organisations to build the wellbeing of people with disability and their care givers.
Through this process the Ministry of labour and parliamentary committee can ensure the budgeting processes are disability inclusive.

There has been a lot of change to disability policy and service delivery since the enactment of 2003 act.
Some findings from disability researchers, bloggers and experience faced by persons with disabilities have established that the current act has lots of gravy areas.
This is because of systemic failures, lack of execution and resource allocation.
It’s prudent that ministry of labour and the stakeholders bite the bull by its horn by coming up with a long term 10-year disability strategy for Kenya which can be reviewed after five years.

Consequently, we need to make sure a new strategy reflects the changing policy environment and builds on opportunities available today as well as what may emerge over
the next decade, this includes considering the findings from KNCr reports the recent UNCRpd reports,
.
Public participation

constitutionally speaking the parliamentary committee, the ministry of labour should adopt public participation models which will enable persons with disabilities to contribute to the new strategies as a way forward.

This will ensure Consultation people with disability are at the centre of the design of the new strategy and have a leading role in modernising policies and
programs affecting their lives.
The needs to be a clear timeline of the consultation.
The policy makers need to adopt range of options available to ensure that persons with disabilities to have a say.
Importantly, all consultation should be accessible to people will disability.
This can be through the following:

list of 3 items
• an open public survey
Since some part of the population are able to access internet and more so the social media.

• face-to-face community workshops in every county
Media awareness.
• and online forum
The ministry of labour and the stakeholders should ensure that at all times.
The Consultations should be accessible.
This is by ensuring when registering persons with disabilities
provide details of any adjustments or special requirements they might need
key responsibilities:

Obviously, nominated parliamentarians with disabilities need to rise to the occasion and speak with one voice.
Its high time they realized disability is a cross cutting issue and doesn’t know the party lines.
They need to be accountable to persons with disabilities. At all cost.
The parliamentarians with disabilities need to think outside the box and develop bills targeting different aspects on disability not just targeting the reappeal of the 2003 persons with disabilities. For example, enactment of a carers act, braille and access to adaptive technology act, mental health act etc
We have evidently not seen the top law makers with disabilities drumming support for Legislation and policies underpinned by data disaggregated by disability which can make a difference by promoting meaningful
leadership, and consistently challenging harmful attitudes and practices.
.
For instance, the much hyped Huduma number and the upcoming census.
As policy expert I also orate that the disability persons organization are not playing their rightful role efficiently.
This is to say that an alternative view for better advocacy needs to be realized.
This is through continues research, surveys and serious consultations among membership.
Its true that most disability persons organizations have restricted themselves to Urban townships when consulting with out reaching out to the rural remote areas where even basic service to a Kenyan with disability are situated.
e
Conclusion

I believe that its high time the disability persons organization developed a serious advocacy framework with all organizations that care about the human rights and wellbeing of people with disability.
The human rights bodies and agencies need to be speaking up about the broader systemic issues that
need to be confronted, to ensure that people with a disability can have a good life.
going forward, it is not just the responsibility of the disability sector to make sure people with disability were included in the
community.
as Richardson a disability advocate says,
“This is about whole of community, and whole of government working through how best to include and embrace people with disability in all aspects of life,”

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.