There are more people with disabilities living in rural than urban areas, due to the fact those who live in rural areas have found a simple routine, which enables them to interact with those without disabilities, while in the urban setting the situation is more complicated.
In Kitengela town, Kajiado County, one young man has beaten the odds to work in a busy environment even with his hearing disability.
Delphine Munyarugo is a 22-year-old deaf young man who runs his own barbershop. Munyarugo who is Rwandese by birth moved to Kenya after his parents fled the Genocide in Rwanda. The family settled in Congo until war broke in the country and they had to move to Kenya.
“Well, my upbringing wasn’t the best because my parents suffered having to flee from a war-torn area, only to migrate to another country with war and have a child who can’t hear,” he pointed out.
When his parents moved to Kenya, he was able to attend a primary school that taught Kenya Sign Language and there he was able to communicate with peers of his age who were also deaf and write down what he wanted to those who could not communicate in Sign Language.
“Coming to Kenya was a blessing to me, here I was able to learn and communicate easily as well as shape a future for myself to be more independent even though I have a disability,” he noted.
Munyarugo operates a barbershop at Kitengela stage which his uncle opened for him and taught him how to cut hair after searching for work and not finding any.
“Cutting hair was not my first love, since fixing car engines was my passion, I even went to a college in Nairobi but looking for work was hard I guess my disability might have played a role as those who want their cars fixed are in a hurry and not as patient as those I cut hair for,” he writes down with a smile on his face.
“I now love cutting people’s hair, the people have a big heart and they are very patient with me,” he added.
Patrick Mutugi who is a regular customer says he likes coming to get his hair cut by Munyarugo.
“He is very patient and knows his work well. I point to the type of cut I want and he does his work. And I’ve known how to sign for him to go a little bit shorter and he gets it,” he said.
His customers are mainly bus operators around the stage and those who alight from the stage and want a quick cut.
He however, notes that the business has not been the best since Covid-19 pandemic, as during that time people used to wear a mask and he was not able to read the lips of customers who didn’t know he was deaf.
He encourages the youth who are living with a disability to have courage, hope and focus, so as to build a promising future.
He also hopes that the government could add basic sign language in primary schools for students to learn, as it would be beneficial for those who are deaf.
In August 2019, Kenya conducted its eighth Population and Housing Census. Disability data in the 2019 census was collected for adults and children above five years of age.
According to the 2019 census, 2.2% (0.9 million people) of Kenyans live with some form of disability. The 2019 census indicates that 1.9% of men have a disability compared with 2.5% of women. In Kajiado County 0.2% have a hearing disability.
By Vivian Mbinya