I get it…. I get it. So it’s that obvious? Today was the nth time I have been stopped by someone to tell me of registration of persons with disability.
First, my dad called me to talk to his visually impaired friend some two years ago. He advised me to go register as one of ‘them’, there were some supposed benefits. I don’t remember detail of what he said. As far as I was concerned, I was normal and did not want anything to do with handouts. I was trying so hard to prove a point- CAPABLE not a BURDEN!
I listened politely and agreed to everything they told me. Later when my dad asked me when I would go to register myself, I told him bluntly that I was not DISABLED. He just put the issue to rest, never to remind me of it again.
Ever since, I have been stopped by people on the streets….. One time a lady named Grace stopped me and asked me about my disability. She told me that registration would open doors for scholarships and even business. Now that reminded me of an old woman who came to my mother immediately after I got the stroke. She told my mother that I should register with disabled persons so that I get a wheelchair. With this wheelchair, I would then get access to a hawking space in town. Not that I have anything against hawkers. Just that there were so many changes that I was trying to get to terms with.
Then there’s this time that I went to be baptized. Some people came to me at Nyayo Stadium pool entrance. They were part of the paraplegic swimming team. They told me to join ‘them’ and even offered to train me for free. Oh! And I would access the pool free of charge every Saturday morning. I took out my swimming costume, the one that I bought and never used……That’s as far as it went. I never pursued it. Of course my Saturday mornings have been busy with classes.
Today we were walking along Ngong Road with my friend Maryanne. Suddenly two men inside two posh vehicles called us. We looked at each other puzzled, and then looked at the direction of the parked vehicles. The men urged us to go to them. ‘Don’t be afraid, we just want to talk to you”. One was a Caucasian man and the other was a Kenyan. We cautiously approached the vehicles. The Caucasian man asked me if I had prosthetics. He explained that they were both persons with disabilities and were confined to wheelchairs. The Kenyan man showed me a handicap sticker on his windscreen. I became more relaxed. I told them that although I was disabled, I did not have prosthetics.
The Kenyan man then asked me if I have registered with the National Council for Persons with Disability. I said I tried but didn’t follow the process through. They told me to complete the process immediately so that I can apply for government contracts. The government is giving priority to women, young people and most importantly, persons with disability. I ended up thanking them, getting a contact card and promising to follow the process through.
I am reminded of my friend and former high school teacher- Mwendwa Marete- Mrs. Obutu. “Use what God allows you to go through for your advantage”. She is just part of the numerous voices that have been trying to convince me to register and get benefits enjoyed by persons with disability. I now accept I have been locking myself out of opportunities while complaining of not having a job. I would be an employer by now.