A carpenter who has shaped timber into valuable furniture for four decades is now thinking of acquiring an automatic timber cutting and smoothening machine to ease his work.
Despite his physical disability, Douglas Kithinji has traversed many parts of Meru County, making furniture instead of engaging in roadside begging like many other people living with the condition would do.
He has been in carpentry for 40 years and despite his advancing age, Kithinji still remains strong in his carpentry.
Every morning, the demined carpenter walks on crutches to his place of work at Kiangua market in Imenti South Sub County of Meru County.
To date, Kithinji is a proud carpenter having trained many people whose exact number he cannot recall.
After completing his primary school education and joining secondary school where he dropped out in form two due to lack of school fees, Kithinji was taken by his father to a rehabilitation centre in Embu and managed to undertake a carpentry course for two years.
He later started his initial carpentry workshop in 1980 at Kiangua market, which though did not pay well forcing him to migrate to Igoji market hoping for a better market for his furniture ranging from tables, chairs, beds, shelves among others.
“I worked at Igoji market for several years then moved to Meru town, then to Maua Town. All these movements were as a result of looking for a better place steady customers,” Kithinji recalls.
After exploring the two biggest towns in Meru County, he returned to Kionyo market in Imenti South Sub County before settling again at the current workplace at Kiangua market.
A father of four, Kithinji says through carpentry he has managed to educate his two children up to form four while two others are in class 8 and 7 respectively.
“I don’t regret having dropped out of school but circumstances forced it. I have to ensure that all my children complete their education since it adds value to a person’s life,” he poses.
He holds high regards for technical education after secondary school level, while lauding the efforts being made by the government to enhance vocational training in the country.
“The demand for technical jobs will never end. The society is always in a flux of change hence room for technical services needed,” he argues.
Though he thinks of retiring for another income generating activity owing to his age that is going down with his energy, Kithinji is now eyeing on making some savings so as to buy an automatic timber smoothening machine to save on labour, since in his own admission, he is now approaching 60 years.
He maintains that with acquiring a timber cutting and smoothening machine, he will be able to increase his furniture production and compete effectively with fellow carpenters in the region.
Kithinji urges other disabled persons to keep-off begging on the streets as the condition is not a mental disability. He says there is need for disabled persons to be creative and choose on an income generating activity to help them eke a living rather than resorting to begging.
“One doesn’t need to have a big capital to start up a business venture. Like for me I started my business with only Sh5000,” he advises.
Rosemary Nkirote and Ashford Riungu both residents of Kiangua are proud to see Kithinji working for himself to earn a living unlike some other disabled people who keep on begging.
They described him as a hardworking person who is devoted to his work with passion. The duo urged other disabled persons to emulate Kithinji by starting small businesses to earn a living rather than engage in begging.
“People will always support you when you have something for yourself,” encourages Riungu.
By Richard Muhambe