Over 400 Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Busia County have benefited from an assortment of 600 assistive devices sponsored by Kenya Reinsurance Corporation’s (Kenya Re) 2022 Niko Fiti Campaign.
Kenya Re’s Corporate Affairs Manager Gladys Some unveiled the devices at Amukura in Teso South Sub County where the corporation in collaboration with the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya (APDK) donated 150 mobility devices and diapers.
She said the counties of Busia and Kwale are this year’s beneficiaries of the Niko fiti campaign, kick-started ten years ago as a flagship Corporate Social Responsibility initiative of Kenya Re.
Some appealed to beneficiaries to take good care of the devices especially the wheelchairs and utilize them to uplift their lives.
“Let them make maximum use of the devices especially the wheelchairs so that they can transform their lives from where they were before receiving them,” she said, cautioning parents against hiding affected children at home.
“We are all equal, we all deserve to live, work and go to school,” she added.
APDK Head of Programs Benson Kiptum reiterated Some’s sentiments urging beneficiaries to properly use the devices because a lot of money has been invested in them.
Kiptum said the biggest challenge persons with disabilities face is lack of assistive devices. “This is due to cost and access. However, Kenya Re has come out to fill the gap,” he said.
“We have been in partnership with Kenya Re for the last 11 years, working closely to ensure persons with disability access assistive devices. The partnership has grown from assisting less than 1,000 persons to 11,000 today.
“APDK acts as a technical partner doing mobilisation, supporting communities to identify and assist persons with disabilities besides producing the devices. This year we intend to support 634 persons with disabilities in Busia and Kwale counties with about 969 devices,” Kiptum said.
Kiptum called upon the county governments and other willing partners to rally behind the noble cause and ensure persons with disability access the devices and assistive technology.
“It is only through this that we can ensure children who are unable to go to school do so, children who are unable to play with others have the opportunity to socialize, and people who are unable to do business can move and engage in productive activities,” he stated.
He said in the next two years they expect to create adequate awareness on disability issues with the government taking the leadership as a duty bearer, “We also expect to have inclusive budget planning processes,” he said.
“This will ensure the budget for PWDs on matters health, education and assistive devices are taken into consideration in fulfilment of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, the Disability Act 2003 and the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disability,” he added.
Teso South Sub County Social Services Officer Ruth Munywoki appealed for more assistive devices for the PWDs saying it is better to give them mobility devices that will enable them engage in productive activities rather than cash handouts.
Busia County chairman for persons with disability Ronald Obiero lauded Kenya Re and APDK for the mobility devices donation saying the devices will play a great role in uplifting their livelihoods.
He appealed to other organisations, national and county governments to come out and assist the PWDs noting that if empowered they can do better than persons without disabilities.
“With mobility devices, we PWDs are able to move around without bothering anyone for assistance. Physically challenged children are able to go to school on their own, while the aged are able to engage in income generating activities,” he said.
Apegei Special School for the physically challenged head teacher Margret Omiari appealed to parents with children with disabilities not to lock them at home but rather take them to available schools where they can be assisted.
“There is need for intensive sensitization. We have many disabled children at home yet we have schools meant to benefit them across the sub county. Besides Apegei special school we also have Apokor Special school for the mentally challenged, we have Alupe special school for the hearing impaired,” she said.
According to Some the Niko Fiti Campaign is a project targeting persons with disability across the country to enable them live a normal life and feel like any other Kenyan. Over 11,000 PWDs have benefited from the project across the country since its inception.
According to Kenya Bureau of Statistics 2019 census Kenya has over 900,000 persons with disabilities.
By Melechezedeck Ejakait