Will it be the “White smoke” from the 10 billion Cash transfer to the disabled Kenyans? Author Mugambi Paul and DR Siyat.

Over the last 3 weeks the Kenyan government has been excoriated on the measure it would avail to the poor due to the hard-economic times and the coming in of Covid-2019 pandemic. Talking of poverty,

several studies show disabled Kenyans are the largest minority who face this tragedy.

Kenyans with disabilities are disproportionately affected by the current situation, as we are by all-natural disasters and major crises. It is vital that our

voices are part of developing solutions, innovating, problem solving.

as 2 experts we are deeply concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on disabled Kenyans, chronic ill persons and the elderly. Bearing in mind that Kenyans with disabilities are among the Kenya’s most marginalized and stigmatized even under normal circumstances.

This requires us all to act, interact and communicate in different ways than we are used to. However, the social inequalities

degeneration COVID19’s impact on Kenyans with disabilities are not new. The risk in the response to the current crisis is that disabled Kenyans

will be left behind once again. The good news is that we already know what works. Fundamentally, we need social justice, equality of opportunities and

decent work.

According the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities “The pandemic is an unprecedented public health,

social and economic emergency that requires swift and effective action by Kenyan public and private sectors, and the society at large.

We know that COVID-19 is more serious for those with underlying health conditions and particularly those who are immunocompromised. What does this outbreak mean for the Kenyan Disability community?

Both national and county Governments should ensure they take

all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of disabled persons, aged and persons with chronic illnesses] Ilo 2020 WHO 2020 UN 2020 HI 2020 [.

 Legal framework:

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that people with disability have the right to health without discrimination

on the basis of disability, including access to population-based public health programmes (Article 25) and that governments also have a duty to take all

necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk (Article 11).

 

Facts to consider:

Providentially, even in non-pandemic circumstances, people with disability are more likely than the general population to have health issues, compromised immunity, increased

risk of morbidity, comorbidities and are more likely to die from preventable causes] Whiteford 2011 DFID 2013, HI 2015un 2012].

According to several studies Some disabled Kenyans will be unable to maintain social distancing

practices because they rely on support workers for vital daily personal care, such as eating, drinking, walking, mobility toileting and dressing.

in addition, disabled Kenyans often rely on family, friends and care givers to provide essential services. During the Corona pandemic, these people may not be able

to provide their usual support.   

Also, in different Kenyan social media platforms disabled Kenyans like many in the broader community, are expressing anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of course, this nervousness is exacerbated by the feeling that they are being left behind or ignored by Kenyan government, private sector and community Corona responses.

Background of social assistance programmes:

Current social assistance programmes include the Older Persons Cash Transfer Programme; the Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Cash Transfer Programme; the Persons with Severe Disabilities Cash Transfer Programme; the Hunger Safety Net Programme; and the Urban Food Subsidy Programme. The effective implementation of these programmes is constrained by challenges such as how to refine inclusion and exclusion criteria and how to determine appropriate transfer amounts.

 

Corona Rescue plan:

We acknowledge the efforts made by Kenyan government by the issuance of the additional 10 billion Kenyan shillings to the ministry of social protection for the vulnerable population in form of cash transfer.

Definitely in the coming days disabled Kenyans expect a white smoke at the NSSF building which houses the ministry of social protection in Kenya.

Most disabled Kenyans are highly expectant of the policy regulations and guidelines on the 10 billion promise by the executive order by the president of Kenya.

Unequivocally, with proper feedback mechanisms and regular consultation disabled Kenyans will be able to know if cash transfer policy programmed will meet their policy needs.

In other words, disabled Kenyans will comprehend how  the 10 billion cash transfer injection to the inua jamii will target the current registered severe disabled persons, elderly, orphans and vulnerable children or it will be meant  for targeting additional new  vulnerable individuals due to the effects of  of Corona 2019. Arguably, much of the debate about cash transfer among disabled Kenyans programmes revolves around the issues of targeting. This is because with the current strategy only severe disabled persons are targeted and considered.

https://labour.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/MLSP-Strategic-Plan-2018-2022_17.09.2019.pdf

 

 

This will be a great test as different stakeholders and policy makers in the social protection department scratch their heads on the right footing on which to take in the implementation policy framework.

Will the policy makers ensure inclusion of other disabled Kenyans since they are also mostly vulnerable?

We believe the cash transfer will avert the short-term impact of the Corona crisis and attenuate its long-term negative effects on human development outcomes.

Nonetheless, it is one thing to say that Kenya with Inua jamii -like programmes are sheltering the more vulnerable from the worst consequences of the Corona crisis, and another to recommend that Inua jamii programmes be designed and implemented during a crisis Lehmann, C. (2012. Several steps are involved, political will is required, and funds must be committed. The ministry of social protection has a pivotal role to ensure coordination, operation and more resources even from development partners.

We observe, the Cash transfer programme will be effective if it will be implemented under a sustainable social protection strategy. Such a strategy should enable better coordination among programmes, between the national and county government ,and among the different international players in order to avoid duplication of effort and waste of resources.

For instance, Mombasa have already started a SMS service asking those who aren’t in the Cash transfer to register “widows, orphans, persons with disabilities, and persons with pre-existing conditions into the emergency plan

Has Mombasa county link up with the national cash transfer programme?

Data base and registration for the cash transfer:

Due to social distance directive as a preventive measure of spread of Corona. Will the ministry of social protection work on vigorous registration, collection of data and automation of all new persons with disabilities, orphans and the elderly?

Or will the ministry of social protection synchronize the current departments databases of children services, NCPWD and   department of social development under the strategic guidance of the National Social Protection Secretariat programme?

This will enable to identify the unmet needs through geographic, demographic and welfare status.

Furthermore, quite a lot of reports indicate the current enhanced single registry adapted through the social assistance programme has improved efficiency and reduction of bottlenecks experienced when the ministry of social protection had 3 separate registries [development pathways 2020[.

Through this policy integration the ministry has    a clear database and actualize its programmes effectively Bobonis, G. and F. Finan (2019).

Such database can enable the ministry to build an array of indicators on disabled persons, orphans and vulnerable children, elderly socioeconomic conditions. Therefore, this is a powerful tool for mapping the different needs. and they could be used to guide other policies. Like the current need of food, water, soap and hand sanitizers.  Moreover, Registries enhance monitoring of the poorest families’ access to social services and infrastructure in a more calibrated way than household surveys. The latter, though they are nationally representative, are often based on small samples that do not facilitate sound analysis for local-level interventions. This knowledge base allows rapid crisis response when programmes may need to expand in order to cover a larger proportion of those that fall into poverty.

Key considerations for the cash transfer:

We consider that the ministry of social protection will cast tis net wider in order to seek input from people with disability, leading disability experts, organizations of persons with disabilities and advocates

in developing their dedicated cash transfer strategy, and in particular, in its COVID-19 Coordination

secondly, Disabled Kenyans with disability, particularly slum dwellers and rural inhabitants, may be disproportionately affected by the pandemic due to increased risk of

infection, higher number of co‑morbidities and because of underlying health conditions such as chronic diseases and respiratory illnesses. Numerically speaking, most disabled persons in Kenya live in slum areas and rural areas without basic amenities. Some live-in solitude while others have been housed.

Most of the disabled population and other low-income earners live hand to mouth. This is to say, COVID-19 will spread rapidly and is especially dangerous to people living in close proximity to others in closed settings [WHO 2020].

Worse still, Thousands of adults and children

with disabilities in Kenya live in segregated and often overcrowded residential settings where they can face neglect, abuse, gender-based violence, and inadequate health care and lack human Rights.

Of particular concern are women and girls with disabilities.

This affirms that disable Kenyans are survivors in this country [KNHR 2015]

 

Thirdly disabled Kenyans continue to face barriers in accessing health care, including prevention, testing, screening and treatment for COVID-19. Fourthly, disabled Kenyans will be   unable to access regular and vital medications and therapeutic services due to low supplies and restrictions in access. Fifthly, disabled Kenyans may not have access to mental health services at a time when the need for accessible and responsive mental health is heightened. Sixthly,

disabled Kenyans will be unable to easily access essential health supplies to keep themselves safe, such as personal protective equipment, hand sanitiser and sterilising

Equipment.

lastly are worried that discrimination or unconscious bias could impact their access to critical and lifesaving health care during this crisis.

to we hope the measures taken will ensure the needs of all Kenyans with disabilities are included in

the response to the pandemic.

As experts we appreciate and acknowledges the challenges that national and county governments and private sector are facing during this pandemic.

 

We call upon all national and county governments to ensure that, in their responses, they include dedicated disability strategies to protect and support disabled Kenyans.

Long term solutions:

We opine that Kenya is still a developing nation We therefore suggest inclusion of one our BBI recommendations which we presented at the task force in February 7th, 2020 as a long-term solution.

  1. Ministry of social protection to establish a disability employment service department under the national employment authority since the authority is in charge of all Kenyans in need of employment. so that they are able to execute employment needs of persons with disabilities Through this agency real disability mainstreaming will be achieved. If this recommendation will be adapted, we believe rapid change will take place. We opine disabled persons won’t need to be in cash transfer for long since cash transfers are not meant for long term programming.
  2. We hope the ministry of social protection can take advantage of the Corona crises to execute of reasonable accommodation plans in all its organs and offer vital lessons to both public and private sector.

All in all, our policymakers will have to come up with a homegrown resolution for ensuring disabled Kenyans rights are protected. And this will not be easy.

 

 

 

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

 Mugambi Paul is a public policy, diversity, inclusion and sustainability expert.

Dr Siyat is a  independent  consultant and systemic advocacy service provider.

 

Why Social Isolation is a Greek term to the disabled Kenyans: Author Mugambi Paul

Several studies indicate that in an emergency person who are disabled, aged and who have chronic illnesses are mostly left behind and most at risk [Help age 2012, HI 2019, UN 2020, WHO 2020].

This is because persons without disabilities will be fighting and running away for their fate. As evidenced many Kenyans have started to go back to the rural places.

 

As a public policy scholar and with lived experience of being disabled and advocate for inclusive approaches in both humanitarian and development spheres.

I am concerned on the current and feature effects of Corona on lives of disabled Kenyans and chronically ill people who are currently falling into cracks.

In other words, they are

being hit and particularly hard by the virus outbreak and access to support services seem to be becoming scarce and finally

will be cut as the crisis worsens.

Evidently, in Nairobi and other major towns Panic buying of cereals, groceries, toilet papers, hand sanitizers and other protective equipment, which also disabled and chronic ill people need have suddenly doubled the prices and also have started to be scarce.

I  observe,  Kenyans without disabilities  and who can stockpile are the ones who are probably less at risk because they were able to rush out to the shops, whereas a lot of disabled Kenyans like  me,  elderly, e and persons with   chronic illnesses just can’t get these commodities.

This is coupled with high poverty levels among the disabled Kenyans.

On the other hand, the Cabinet secretary of Health gave a directive prioritizing the elderly and persons with disabilities in the queuing system in the supermarket [daily nation Friday March 2020[

This pronouncement shows that disabled persons have started to be brought in in Corona conversations though much needs to be done in order not to live us behind. If this directive will be followed, we are yet to see.

 

Could the Kenyan supermarket borrow a leaf from Tesco in the United Kingdom or supermarkets in Australia?

In both nations they have reasonable accommodation for ensuring disabled persons, elderly and persons with chronic illnesses are able to shop comfortable and provision of delivery for those with large shopping.

The Corona virus has equalized us all and it has led to the realization that what works for all works for disabled too] UN 2006 UNDP 2017 ILO 2019 Whiteford 2019].

 

Dilemma of social distance: you

 

Social distancing is not an option for disabled Kenyans. The Kenyan government and more so the ministry of health and disability stakeholders need to go back to the drawing board in order to address the needs and priorities of disabled Kenyans so that we can have inclusive corona interventions.

Of course, many Kenyans with out disabilities take things for granted. This is because most will never fit in to our shoes till when they join our disability club.

For instance, Kenyans    with a disability, who rely on care givers and support workers for daily living and sighted guide services including washing and dressing.

I am talking about people with spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, sometimes people with intellectual disability, psychosocial disability, the elderly, Down syndrome,

that might need assistance with showering, with going to the toilet.

Moreover, social stigma in Kenya is still ripe,

Shoppers who ar blind and vision impaired will not get sighted guided assistance in the shopping spree due to the continued pronouncement by Kenyan government that we should be one metre point five away and avoid handshakes.

in case the president issues an executive order of total or partial lock down, I observe the disabled will be worst hit even withing there local surroundings.

Did you know most of the local shopping areas are highly squeezed and have low ventilation?

How will my fellow wheelchair users avoid assistance not being close while many of the wheelchairs in Kenya are manual?

Furthermore, some disabled creep on the floors!

How will they shopwith out contacts?

Most Kenyan roads are inaccessible how will the Blind and vision impaired avoid falling in to ditches and trenches?

Our independence and self estieem by the use of assistive divides is being questioned!

How can this non handshake apply to mobility impaired persons like Blind, Crutch users, wheelchair users?

Does the Cabinet secretary of Health and policy makers know our devices are metallic?

What if the care giver is infected and need to self-isolate?

This will make Disabled persons become at higher risk,

Additionally, the actual time and effort of finding somebody else, finding the right person that’s going to fit, as well

as then training someone up from scratch again, is a huge effort for people with very high support needs who are going to be in that really high-risk category. The ministry of health needs to train its front-line staff on basic disability inclusion tips

 

Why are the disability sector and stakeholders silent as the lack of disability inclusive Corona continues?

Are they contributing to uninterrupted discrimination and injustice to the larger wanjikus with disabilities?

I suppose they are hiding and later after the Corona era is over, they will claim we were left behind!

The Kenyan media should rise to the occasion and speak on behalf of the disabled Kenyans and persons with chronic illnesses.

Contribution by disability sector:

The disability sector, human right bodies and other policy stakeholders have the role to monitor and report the government organs on the said implementation.

This is actually time for disabled experts, disabled persons organizations, human right bodies state organs practising disability mainstreaming should contribute to more inclusive Corona interventions.

What if the Kenyan disabled stakeholders changed tact and start to advocate for now the silent revolution of reasonable accommodation being implemented?

To put it differently why doesn’t the disability sector join the table instead of awaiting to be in the menu?

I opine, Kenya has great public policies on reasonable accommodation now is the right time to,

push for implementation.

let me illustrate

What if the disability sector and stakeholders pushed the national construction authority now to publish and implement real accessibility standards of buildings?

Most likely we shall have makeshift hospitals. Will they be accessible?

Why don’t the disability stakeholders within their budgets adjust and contribute to the ministry of health on inclusive approaches?

For instance, developing Kenyan sign language clip on how to prevent Corona virus then distribute to the mainstream media and social platforms?

Why don’t the disability stakeholders produce material into braille and distribute all over the country through the free matter for the blind service offered by poster corporation as entrenched in the persons with disabilities act 2003?

Does the disability sector know the time is now for implementing the Marrakesh treaty?

Could the global commitment made by Kenya government, private sector and disability stakeholders be revisited in the area of innovation and make non-metallic assistive devices?

 

All in all, this coronavirus comes with a silver lining. At least, it will pep up people to take normal civic sense to a higher status. So that besides coronavirus

we actually end up also fighting other issues like discrimination faced by Kenyans with this will lead to breaking some if not all the barriers that disabled Kenyans face.

 

 

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

 Mugambi Paul is a public policy, diversity, inclusion and sustainability expert.

 

Why the DISABLED Kenyans are pregnant in the Corona era: Author Mugambi Paul

 

Generally speaking, The COVID-19 pandemic occurring in Kenya should be of utmost concern to every citizen. This is because we need to work together around the country in solidarity.

Ofcourse, the risen times are extra-ordinary. This is the times that will redefine Kenyan human spirit.

 Are we going to ensure disability-inclusive, accessible disaster-response?

On my own behalf and the disabled Kenyans

 We acknowledge the great leadership displayed by cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe of ministry of health under this difficult circumstance. Moreover, the CS is communicating in to minds and hearts of all citizens. Could this be adapted as the new norm to Kenyan organization culture of governance?

 

On the other hand, the Corona virus seems to have equalized all of us and the realization of the economic inequalities that exist among low income Kenyans

Amongst these is the largest minority “Kenyans with disabilities” of who make up more than 15 % of the population [WHO 2011]. we need to examine corona virus by waring the disability lenses.

On March 20th, 2020 during the daily updates a more disability inclusive approach was adapted.

This affirms that the CS is a great communicator.

though much needs to be done to realize disability Inclusive approaches.

As a  public policy scholar and a  person with lived experience of being blind I  opine that if what the CS health interventions were to be made long term policy execution the Kenyan  government will  overcome many challenges of including persons with disabilities and resolve the  unemployed citizens  mystery.

In other words, our policies must not discriminate. Disabled and low-income people must be included in every policy, every fund, every new law.

This is the real meaning of disability mainstreaming.

 

Background:

 

Kenyans with disabilities’ needs and concerns should be adequately addressed in existing COVID-19 Kenyan relief packages. 

I affirm that Disability impacts every community and occurs at every stage of life. In addition to impacting Kenyans with disabilities more disparately, the virus is also likely to create disability while people recover [WHO 2020].

Fact to consider:

I believe The Corona virus has awaken the public consciousness of what works for the disabled Kenyans can also work for all

Challenges faced by disabled Kenyans:

Unfortunately. Clean water and sanitation facilities aren’t always available or accessible, particularly for Kenyans with

Disabilities and the low-income earners [UNICEF 2017[.

Are the newly 500 water points in Nairobi accessible to all disabled Kenyans?

 Life-saving information often doesn’t reach those who are deaf, blind, using wheelchairs, illiterate, Deafblind or living in remote areas.

I uphold this global health emergency, the ability to read timely information in an accessible format is even more critical than usual. I   believe the more people access and act upon the information that Ministry of health leaders and public officials are

providing, the better we Kenyans can all cope with the rapidly evolving situation.

 

 

 Furthermore, the corona virus puts people with chronic diseases, Kenyans with disabilities, and the elderly most at risk. could the ministry of health issue a statement regarding rationing of care to ensure that when rationing treatment begins, decisions about how medical treatment should be allocated are made without discriminating based on disability?

 

 Worse still, the Kenyan health system is

not prepared. In China it is reported already some disabled persons have died due to starvation and nonattendance.

Information campaigns and medical care must include the needs of Kenyans with disabilities. It is pivotal that Kenyan state as a duty bearer identify and monitor people with

disabilities in their communities. Frontline staff need training on caring for people with disabilities in the crisis.  The ministry of health should also ensure protection of the front-line health workers by provision of the equipment which they need to execute their work safely

masks, gowns, shields, gloves, suits, and other equipment. Therefore, preventing further spreading of COVID-19.

I urge the Kenyan public policy makers and stakeholders to think boldly and broadly in their response to this pandemic and waste no time saving lives and have actionable long-term policies and regulations.

 

Different ILO studies have affirmed with proper reasonable accommodation execution productivity is high and brings diversity. For instance, If the ministry of public service, ministry of labour, federation of Kenya employers, employment authority, ministry of transport, disability experts can work together via video link can craft a reasonable accommodation regulation.

This is to say with flexibility and

creative solutions are more important than ever in this Corona era.

With this regulation, the president with his executive power ascent can save Kenya a great deal.

several studies and additional public health experts have stated that disabled Kenyans are more vulnerable to COVID-19. Beyond the specific conditions or diagnoses that may raise susceptibility to the virus itself, Kenyans with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to the broader social, civil, and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Thus life in Kenya will never be the same again.

will this be a turning point for Kenyan Parliament and senate to ensure a inclusive social protection cover for the marginalized?

  Outlined below are a series of expectations that could benefit Kenya in the long run:

  1. Prioritize and Expand Home delivery services. This can be done through acceleration of M-post services since most Kenyans have Mobile phones additionally more private delivery companies can also be incorporated with a particular county. This would reduce the social contacts since most Kenyans go seeking for goods outside there vicinities.
  2. 24 shift working economy: this can be accelerated by both public and private employers thus even reduction of man hour spent on traffic. Moreover, through shift working economy it would increase work productivity. Some best practises can be borrowed from the private sector. Could this be an opportunity for implementing 2030 vision? Additionally, if adopted in Nairobi, Kisumu, Meru and Mombasa can say by bye to the traffic menace. Could the new Nairobi Metropolitan team adapt this?
  3.  

Prioritize access of digitalized documentation: if this was to be adopted most government documents would be gotten easily. For instance, one of the best recently successful is acquiring renewal of tax exemption among the Kenyans with disabilities although now with the advent of Corona Kenya revenue authority and NCPWD needs now more than ever to decentralize the service. This would actually reduce the transport expenses incurred by Kenyans and also save working hours.

  1. Cash transfer uptake: As the coronavirus crisis has caused a significant economic downturn, I believe that it is essential for ministry o of treasury  to authorize an increase in cash transfer programme to the ministry  of social protection in order to reduce the economic shocks among persons with disabilities,  the seniors of Kenyans   and their care givers. Who are already vulnerable and not covered with the current cash transfer programme.

This move will enable government of Kenya to reduce vulnerability levels.

5 food access:

Regular access to healthy food is key to maintaining strong immune systems. I   encourage the Kenyan government to expand access to food distribution during this period especially to chronic ill persons, the low-income earners, disabled Kenyans, the slum areas and vulnerable populations.

Regrettably, many Kenyan families even before corona era were living under distress for lack of one meal a day.

 Sadly, many Kenyans ability to keep and maintain employment will be impacted by both the business and transit closures.

If short term measures are not taken this might lead to civil strife and increase of psychosocial disabilities among Kenyans.

6.Access to transport: the Kenyan government can support the public transport sector by having reduction of oil prices thus preventing Kenyans from paying extra charges.

Additionally, the government owned busses offer the services to support the private owned public transport services with the new half full caring capacity policy implementation. Where are the NYS busses?

 I observe there has been increased discipline in the Matatu industry by the reduction of congestion by the ministry of Health directive.

Environmentally speaking, drastic air pollution has reduced.

 

How I wish it was a daily Norm in the public transport.

Could the government offer tax wavers for public transport to acquire disability inclusive buses?

 

7. Implementation of accessibility standards.

The national construction authority and disability stakeholders should rally behind and ensure when makeshift hospitals,

isolation facilities and construction of new hospitals are fully accessible and equipped with accessible beds.

Therefore, Duty bearers should ensure disability civil rights protections are fully protected since rights   are not negotiable. I believe time is ripe to enforce and implement article 27, 54 of the constitution and persons with disability act 2003 for protecting rights of disabled Kenyans.

  1. inclusive economic stimulus: Kenyans with disabilities must be included in the economic relief proposals now under consideration by the private sector and Kenyan government. Given that COVID-19 poses unique risks for Kenyans with disabilities and other low-income earners that may make it more difficult for those who are not in any form of employment. This will enable people with disabilities and low-income earners to be able to survive during the current crisis. The economic stimulus should be easily and equitably available for all. Of particular concern are men, women, girls and boys with disabilities.
  2. All of these recommendations are critical to addressing the spread of COVID-19 and addressing our nation’s public health more broadly and ensuring we meet the SDGS by not living any one behind.

As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” The fragile state of this “network of mutuality” has become all too apparent during the coronavirus outbreak. Though we may be vulnerable, we are not dispensable. In fact, disabled Kenyans have critical experience to share in adapting to challenging and constantly changing situations affecting our health, employment, education, housing, and families–experience that all fellow Kenyans will need in the days and weeks ahead. We are grateful for the urgency with which the Ministry of Health is moving to make sure that the Kenyan people never feel the worst of this pandemic, and am seeking  only to protect Kenyan disability  community from the unintended but all too foreseeable impacts of discrimination.

especially during all phases of disaster preparation, response, recovery, and mitigation.

 

 

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

 Mugambi Paul is a public policy, diversity, inclusion and sustainability expert

The Outrage of the missing data of women with disabilities in Kenya “where are you my sisters?” Author Mugambi Paul.

The upcoming international women day’s gives scholars, practitioners and other public policy stakeholders to ask ourselves the pertinent question.
Has Kenya done well in advancing the rights of women and girls with disabilities?
Has Kenya broken the barriers of inclusion of women with disabilities?
Has the disability space been accommodative of women with disabilities?

As a public scholar I join in the reflection of the Kenyan disability public space.
Absolutely not, this is one of the debates which the stakeholders in the disability sector need to engage.
Are women with disabilities actively engaged?
I live that to other analysts. As a matter of principle, I say representation matters.
On the other hand, I thank the president of Kenya having appointed Madam MUkhobe at the highest decision-making organ in the country since 2013.
Where is the Data and statistics of the disabled?
Numbers don’t lie.
Globally disabled persons are at 15 %.
3.8 of the are persons with moderate to severe impairment.
5.1 % of the children with disabilities are below the age of 14.
0.7 % have severe functional impairment.
19 % are women with disabilities world report 2011.
To put matters into perspective, In the latest 2020 national council of population report has no data of women or girls with disabilities.
Does this mean that women and girls with disabilities do not get pregnant?
Are women and girls with disabilities not sexually active?
Different media channels on a weekly basis in Kenya have been reporting of how women and girls with disabilities have been experiencing gender-based violence in the hands of family members or even under the institutions mint to support them.
I believe This is another big blow to disabled persons in Kenya after the release of Kenya bureau of statistics 2019 census report. Which in essence reduced the data of disabled Kenyans.

Will disability sector continue with the same old ways of addressing this challenge?
Will the disability sector move out of board rooms and actualize the dreams of girls and women with disabilities?
Does the national council of population have a disability mainstreaming committee?
The lack of disability desegregated data will obviously affect planning and service delivery for girls, boys, men and women with disabilities.
In other words, the national council of population affirms that women and girls with disabilities have never experienced gender-based violence nor gotten pregnant.
Let me remind the disability stakeholders women with disabilities are more likely to experience sexual violence than women without disabilities.
This is also coupled with disabled Kenyans who face barriers to accessing services in both public and private sectors.
Most disability policy stakeholders know the barriers that disabled Kenyans face but have refused to actualize them.
Disabled Kenyans persons have been left chanting in the social media as a tool of advocacy.
Am not surprised to note in March 4th, 2020 a person with physical impairment was begging for a wheelchair on in one of the social media platforms.
Which system works for disabled Kenyans?
Will the Big four agenda be realized for disabled persons?
When will Kenya declare begging an economic enterprise for disabled persons since the constitution provisions aren’t working for disabled Kenyans?
several studies show Women and girls living with disabilities often face additional marginalization in their experiences of abuse as well as specific barriers to accessing services, due to:
• economic and/or physical dependence on the abuser, which challenges efforts to escape (particularly within family and sometimes institutional set ups. Several research in Kenya have indicated women with disabilities have suffered from forms of abuse specific to women living with disabilities (e.g. withholding of right medications, like the case of national children council exposed by NTV Kenya in 2019.
research done by women with disabilities organizations in Kenya show denial of assistive devices is also rampant.
Additionally, there is also refusal to provide personal care), which are less documented and may not be explicit within legal definitions of abuse.
For instance, Menstrual Health in Kenya: Landscape Analysis published in May 2016 never showed the extent to which women and girls with disabilities can’t access sanitary pads.
As Well lack of or limitations in physical accessibility of venues for women with disabilities still remains one of the barriers.
Furthermore, perceptions by service providers like health continue to plague the system in place.
This is because many believe that they cannot provide services for women with disabilities given their resource or capacity limitations. Mainstream women organizations and women service providers have not entrenched any inclusive measures of engaging or consulting women with disabilities.
In other words, lack of programming informed by and implemented in consultation with Kenyan women with disabilities or misinterpretation of their needs in escaping and overcoming the abuse they have experienced. Thus, having gaps in collaboration between disability organizations and service providers supporting survivors, as well as assumptions by each group that survivors are served by the other. A study by Kenya national human rights commission in 2015 indicated low sensitivity among law enforcement personnel or other service providers, who may not inquire about abuse by caretakers, or disregard reports from women with visual, speech/communication or motor coordination disabilities (e.g. cerebral palsy), assuming they are intoxicated or are not serious in their claims. The KAIH who have been working closely in the legal apparatus affirm that biases among judicial personnel and courts is evidently seen.
For instance, cases of provision of preferential treatment to the abuser in child custody due to the victim’s disability (

What can disability sector and stakeholders do to change the narrative?
Develop Strategies and tools to prevent violence against women with disability. E.g. have inclusive training tools on gender violence.
Ensure collection of data collected is gender, age and disability desegregated in reporting and monitoring
Share best practices of gender and disability equitable practice
develop inclusive Referral system and services which can assist in responding to women with disability who experience violence
have more role models among women with disabilities.
Collaborative initiatives with the mainstream women organizations
list end support men with and without disabilities who are supporting reduction of gender-based violence initiatives.
Conduct inclusive training to service providers in both health and law enforcing agencies.
Ensure engagement and meanful consultation with women and girls with disabilities from rural and urban set up.
This will actualize the slogan not living any one behind as the sustainable development goals advocate.
global commitments 2018.

In conclusion:
The truth of the matter is Kenya is known to have progressive disability
related laws and policies but poor implementation is the order of the day.
As a result the dire state of affairs of women with disabilities is not due to lack of new ideas. The biggest problem is lack of capacity to take up and implement the new ideas in existing policy documents.

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

Will you Be my Valentine? “Tips for an extra special day with your blind partner” Author Mugambi Paul

Friendship, love, and romance are in the air with Valentine’s Day in Nairobi..

Whether you’re on your first date, or it’s your tenth with your true love, planning the right date night, getting the right flowers, a gift, dinner reservations,
etc can be a bit stressful.

And you may imagine that going on a first date with someone who is blind or visually impaired can even be more awkward.

But in reality, going on a date with someone who is blind or low vision is no different than dating any other person.

Here are a few tips for sighted companions or partners to help make your date memorable.

#1 Sighted Guide

Consent is key! Once you’ve selected a place, made a reservation or planned an activity, don’t forget to brush up on your sighted guide technique.

There is an etiquette to offering sighted guide assistance to a blind person. Always ask first, don’t grab or push.

Now a days I combine my White cane experience with Sunu Band
to navigate indoor spaces like restaurants and cafes. Moreover, it has aided me with the line like at theaters, so I know when it’s my turn to move up in the queue.

The Sunu Band is also great for when you are doing a sighted guide as the blind or low vision person being guided retains awareness and more control.

#2 Be descriptive

But not overly so – allow your partner the chance to soak in the ambiance.

Now that you’ve arrived at that fancy, romantic restaurant or place, offer a lite description of where you are to your partner.

Allow your blind partner the chance to ask about his/or her surroundings.

#3 Don’t just read the menu

make it conversation instead of reading a list.
You know Nairobi hotels and restaurant do not offer braille, or large print menus, you have to check with your partner their preference.

If those aren’t available, you can start by asking what are they’re in the mood for drink and food? If it’s a place you know well, make a recommendation
or mention the specialty of the house.

But whatever you do, don’t order or speak for your blind or low vision partner. Especially, don’t allow waiters or staff to ask you to speak for your blind
partner.

In the event it happens, tell your waiter to direct the question or comment to your partner.

#4 Table manners are still king

And throw away the messy stereotypes. Enjoying a meal with someone who is blind or low vision is just like eating or drinking with anyone else. Again being
a little bit more descriptive is good.

When the meal arrives, you may offer a quick description of where things are on the table. For example, your wine glass is to your left or at your 9 O’clock.
Sometimes using the clock reference is helpful.

Remember, don’t overdo it and stress about the vision impairment. Just be yourself and enjoy each other’s company through great conversation, drinks, and
food. At the end of the date, the most important thing is that you both have fun.

Additionally, everyday should be a valentine.
You should even practise self-love.
Self-love means allowing yourself to be happy. Too often, we manipulate ourselves instead of increasing the amount of joy we bring to our lives.

So, every day, do things that make you feel good. Even 10 minutes of self-care can add up and make you feel much better in the long run. But you’re worth
more than 10 minutes. You are the most crucial person in your life. Act, accordingly, show love, and be open to receive love.
All in all, do things that fulfill your soul. Get rid of people who don’t make you feel good.
What others say or think about you has nothing to do with reality. It’s just their perception.

Sure, we’d all like to be around people who are kind and loving, but the harsh reality is that rudeness exists. Yet, it doesn’t need to affect you and
especially not your wellbeing.

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

The cost of remaining mum on Kenyans living with disabilities and individuals with chronic illness Author Mugambi Paul

Research shows that most chronic illnesses can affect every single part of individuals life, but it doesn’t really look like it. Some chronic illnesses have constant pains and fatigue among individuals [WHO 2011].
On the other hand, I have engaged several individual in the social media platforms.
This has led me to learn several lessons
You might not know a person is suffering if you don’t communicate ]HI 2011].
I classify some of these individuals as having invisible disabilities.
This is to say invisible disabilities mean that often times,
people don’t believe that actually individuals can be sick. This leads to people saying common things that, despite usually having good intentions, can come off as rude,
dismissive, and ableist.

The one I’ve heard the most is something that has undoubtedly been said to every person with an invisible disability or illness – the dreaded ‘but you
don’t look disabled nor sick!’. This happens all too often as an offhand comment, but it’s also been followed by heartbreaking situations like eventually losing friends
who haven’t believed that chronic illness or having impairment was real because people don’t look or act sick in the way they think one should be?
So, to give you a bit of a crash course, here’s some examples of what NOT to say to people with chronic illness.

‘But you don’t look sick!’

Yep, I know – but I am. These five words reduce health down to appearance, which is not the case at all. You might be saying this with the best intentions
(hopefully shock, because someone look ~too stunning~ for someone who’s actually very ill) but what it actually does is hits on one of the biggest fears of chronically
ill people – that people don’t believe them.
Actually,
Personally, whenever someone says this, it just reminds me of the many times people haven’t believed I can’t see because I didn’t *look* Blind. You might mean it supportively,
but all I hear is doubt.
This is because am super in mobility and orientation especially in familiar territories.
Sometimes it’s an anxious moment for me when individuals with out disabilities just plainly discuss behind my back “look at him, he is just pretending, he is comfortable” not knowing I have to go an extra mile to orient myself, secondly he or she doesn’t know that I have to do it since I don’t have alternative.
Additionally, I note that Not all illnesses are visible.
I can guarantee you; every chronically ill person has tried absolutely everything they physically and financially can. I cannot think of one person who’s
simply said, ‘ah bugger, I’m chronically ill. I’m not going to bother trying things to feel better!’
Trust me, some have tried it all; all the doctors’ and specialists’ suggestions, and yes, a bunch of the tinfoil hat ones too (desperation and lack of medical
answers make for strange bedfellows).

Examples of suggestions of what my friends the blind community and other persons with disabilities have tried including: various supplements, Chinese herbs, marijuana, LSD, ketamine, essential
oils, drinking their own urine, crystals, B12 shots, spirulina, charcoal, detoxes and juice fasts, prayer and religion – the list goes on,
as a blind fellow you can guest which one of them, I have tried I’ll let you ponder on which).

And before you ask, yes
You have seen many disabled persons, the chronic ill persons going to work, or you saw a photo of one catching up with a friend on the weekend. That’s irrelevant to whether he or she look ‘okay’ to you now
He or she still remains ill, and he or she maintains his or her impairment since they do not disappear.
According to several studies they indicate the nature of chronic illness is, sadly, extremely can be unpredictable. One can have totally manageable levels of pain and fatigue one day, and barely able to
walk the next. Sometimes it’s because one accidentally overexerted himself and went over my limits, but sometimes symptoms flaring can be completely random.
If you find it annoying, just try to imagine how frustrating it is for individuals with chronic illnesses. Regardless, some have always sick and in pain – some days some are just able to manage
it (and hide it!) better than others.

‘You just need to snap out of it and push through.’

‘Pushing through’ actually makes someone, and many others with chronic pain and illness, worse.
In Kenya and other developing countries there is no particular policy framework addressing concerns of persons with chronic illnesses although a mention here and there on different framework.
Most families carry the burden of taking care of chronic ill individuals and this affects the economic and social wellbeing of the society at large. The resources used to trat could have been used for other functions [ILO 2017, undp 2016].
Its high time we have particular social protection measure to address persons who have chronic illnesses.
Moreover, one of the major experientials in the disability world and chronic illness which seems to be similar is the way the society expects us to push ourselves beyond our limits
Obviously its so great to push beyond limit but this doesn’t apply to all persons. What the society doesn’t understand persons with disabilities and individuals with chronic illnesses are not a homogenous group.
one is sick or disabled every single day, and know their body and their limits better than anyone – so telling one to ‘push through’ is actually
the worst possible advice. When you’re talking to someone with disability or a chronic illness, remember just because you’d be able to manage something, doesn’t mean
they can or should. Don’t assume someone’s health and limits for them. It totally removes their agency as a human being.
Besides having a disability some individuals might also be having chronic illnesses.
‘You’re too young to be sick!’ or sometimes for disabled persons they say woyee woyee how comes he is blind?

Yep! He or she is young! And sick or having a disability! It sucks. But sickness and chronic illness isn’t exclusively the domain of the elderly; people of all ages can get sick. The society needs to understand that Doesn’t
make their experiences less valid, or their identities abnormal. They just sick in a cool young person way, I guess. I don’t know – it’s a weird thing to
say, so just don’t.

‘If you stopped talking about it all the time and looked on the bright side, you’d feel better.’

I do! To be totally frank, as a blind fellow if I didn’t look on the optimistic side, I wouldn’t be alive right now. Being blind for 23 years now it’s not a walk in the park.
It takes strong will to be in this unjust society.
This also applies to other fellow disabled persons.
Needless to say,
Being chronically ill is also tough as hell, and many chronic
illnesses have strong ties to mental illness. One has to look on the bright side A LOT, otherwise their depression and just the daily battle of being sick
would drag one down and some can’t be able to get out of their beds.

All in all, people should be able to talk about their lived experience as much as they deem appropriate, and disability and chronic illness is not spoken about
enough. Let them vent, let us explain, let them talk about their day!

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

Inside the Kenyan disability corridors of power Author Mugambi Paul

Over the past few years, the discourse agenda of many disabled Kenyans has been dominated by service delivery and public participation debate] Mugambi 2017] this is because both incredibly important issues. But amid these dominating subjects, have the voices of disabled Kenyans been hard?
Has Kenya improved its level of inclusiveness?
Globally, persons with disabilities are estimated to represent 15 per cent of the world’s population, but in many developing nations this percentage
can be significantly higher] world report 2011 UN enable 2011].
this is to say, population of 1.3 billion, disabled persons constitute an emerging market the size of China. Their Friends and Family add another 2.4 billion potential consumers who act on their emotional connection to PWD] Ilo 2017].
Together, PWD control over $8 trillion in annual disposable income] ILO 2016].
The aging Boomer population is adding to the number of the disabled daily. As Boomers’ physical realities change, their need and desire to remain active in society dovetails with the demands of PWD. This group controls a larger share of the national wealth than any previous generation. Does Kenya government know this?
Just like many developing nations Kenya is on automobile settings on matters disability inclusion.
Most public policies are well woven but poorly executed. This is quite evidenced by the rare and sometimes absence seen in leadership and decision-making roles, the visibility in
popular culture and media are low, absence of disabled representation in key policy decision organs and stakeholders, and recognition of the work as thought leaders and influencers is almost non-existent. What has been happening?
The Kenyan government has strongly concentrated on developing policies geared towards social safety nets. In other words, the Kenya government sees disabled persons as people who need care and do not deserve to contribute to the economy.
Debatably, if the Kenyan government could turn the coin, they would gain more tax collection from this single largest minority in Kenya.
This can be achieved once the government realizes and focusses on effective, first service and maximization of social assets] Whiteford 2018].
How will Kenya government meet the sustainable development goals 2030?
How will the vision 2030 be achieved?
How will the big 4 agenda be achieved?
The reality is disabled Kenyans have been left behind.
This has led to artist and disability activist to start to compose or entertain with the song “do not live us behind”
As evidenced in twitter tags and music.
Moreover, The work of the disability rights
movement often consists of them highlighting their absence from the public domain.
In other words, most regulations and legislation on disability are still shelved in the cabinet. this has led to continuous charity model of delivery of service with out clear roadmap towards right based approach. This is affirmed by the implementation of education policy practises etc
Needless to say, its popular for public and private organisations to claim that they are being inclusive, yet retention rates remain low for disabled people in most organisations, with very
few moving into positions of leadership or responsibility.

I observe, A key factor in understanding inclusion is that it lies in the eye of the beholder. Many organisations have good intentions on inclusion, yet their staff
members from minority groups don’t feel comfortable and leave within a short period. For other organisations inclusion is a reality, so long as everyone
fits in and conforms to company culture] eddy robber 1988].

It’s very easy to say you are being inclusive, it’s another matter to be viewed as being so by those who are the target for being included. I don’t want to sound like a broken glass “why should someone claim his or her organization, yet a disabled person can’t access a toilet?”
According to my findings Most people mean
well, but they forget their unconscious behaviours. Very few people are comfortable with stepping back to allow a person from a minority group (like a
disabled person) to take an opportunity over themselves. Even fewer seem comfortable with a disabled person being their supervisor.
Could this be one of the reasons of the low rate employment recorded by Kenyan public service report
in 2015?
There are those who consider inclusion to be not “seeing” a person’s difference. This isn’t inclusion, its assimilation.
There isn’t much point in having disabled employees to your team if they aren’t valued for their contribution. This seems like an unnecessary thing
to say, yet social media has heard many stories about disabled staff who are never sent the documents in a format they can read
and work on, or aren’t given time to hear what is happening via their interpreter, and even highly experienced employees who are never given the opportunity
to speak and share their views. They are, quite literally, token appointments.
As a public policy scholar and with lived experience on disability, I affirm that the focus must shift from charity model and have accommodation to a plan focused on specific actions to attract customers and talent in disabled persons markets.
Even the available market opportunities for the disabled are being snatched under our noses.
Why aren’t we represented in many government bodies?
Who is supposed to audit the leadership gaps in the disability sector?

All in all, many disabled people work in invisible ways, shifting ground from within existing business and government structures. This work is just as important, just
as necessary, as the work of those who use the public domain to challenge assumptions and perspectives on disabled people. Internal institutional barriers
need to be addressed as much as social assumptions and social policy. Without taking our place as 15% of Kenyan employment and leadership we won’t be in a position to
challenge the ableist structural barriers which deny an equitable disabled presence across the public and private domains.

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

Untold success story of the Cash transfer programme in Kenya Author Mugambi Paul

Rising inequality isn’t a new concern. Many countries in the global are facing this phenomenon.
Oliver Stone’s movie “Wall Street,”
with its portrayal of a rising plutocracy insisting that greed is good, was released in 1987. But politicians, intimidated by cries of “class warfare,”
have shied away from making a major issue out of the ever-growing gap between the rich and the rest.
The best argument for putting inequality on the back burner is the depressed state of the economy. Isn’t it
more important
to restore economic growth than to worry about how the gains from growth are distributed?
I will look at the social protection aspects in Kenya and how it has contributed to changing the lives of most vulnerable persons in the society.
Secondly, I will strive to highlight the misgivings of the global commitments.
To begin, the 2019 to 2020 Kenyan Budget raised the issue of implementing a Single Registry for all social protection programmes. This will improve the coordination of social
protection programmes, which have been highly fragmented leading to numerous inefficiencies. According to the social assistance project the ministry of labour and social services will highly improve the outcomes of the social protection programme by having the 3 cash transfer programmes in one registry. This is a great move which will reduce the flows experienced in the systems.
However, the Registry should not only create a data base of
beneficiaries from all programmes but should also track beneficiaries until they are able to graduate. As a public scholar I recommend the Ministry of labour and social services and its partners should develop A strategy for non-labour
constrained households who have the potential to graduate to entrepreneurship and gainful employment. This will help in eliminating increased dependency
on social safety nets.
Secondly, the government of Kenya has scaled up the uptake of the universal health cover though not much has been discussed on the inclusivity of disabled persons to this well intended programme.
However, Today, the risk of childbearing related deaths has become rare among Kenyans mothers. Infant deaths have also declined significantly, while more children
can now live beyond their fifth birthdays than before. Although non-communicable diseases are emerging and threatening the health of many people, the health
system has grown stronger and more resilient to be able to eliminate this threat. The county and national government need to enhance the human resource capacity in the health sector and reduce the cost of health by also adapting a single registry in both public and private hospitals which all the medics can access under privacy laws of the clients with out incurring extra charges as in the current situation. another aspect of promoting well being of citizens is the availability of water supply.
Scaling up urban projects to improve water and sanitation
The state of water and sanitation in Kenya is worryingly poor. Urban areas are prone to water borne diseases that break out almost every year. Recently,
Kenya experienced a Cholera outbreak that claimed more than 56 people, with the majority being Zin Nairobi.
is December 2019 Kirinyaga county is adding to the statistics.
Accordingly, the allocation to water and sanitation in the 2019 budget allocation was increased. in 2019. This is the highest level in five years, and though the nation has fiscal limitations, the allocation is justifiable to address water issues and
prevent disease outbreaks in the country. Despite the usual concerns on disbursements from the national treasury to the counties, the 2019 budget shows improvements, as 45% of the approved budget
was disbursed as of October 2019, compared to 2018 financial year. With such improvements, Kenya will be able to address its water and sanitation
problems in 2020.
On the other hand, the floods experienced in Kenya in November 2019 could have saved Kenyan millions of shillings if the ministry of water and irrigation had proper mechanism of conserving the rainwater.
Instead of the havoc caused and 152 lives lost we would have seen more water reservoirs being put in place.
The more challenging factor on this is that a dry spell will be kicking off and more request for food donation will take place as evidenced by the support by United states of America
https://www.nation.co.ke/news/Kenya-receives-Sh340m-food-aid-from-US/1056-5396952-egea2j/index.html

additionally, Social protection programmes have led to Kenyan households being able to afford more than one meal a day, achieve more diet diversity, afford more shoes
and clothes for their children, attain some level of education, and empower small scale farmers. However, recently there have been concerns among stakeholders
regarding the administration of these programmes, which the Government should aim to adequately address. These efforts should help reinstate donor confidence
in the administration of these programmes.
All in all, the government of Kenya has highly enhanced the development of well-crafted legal frameworks which now need to be executed for the benefit of the most marginalized and vulnerable members of our society.

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