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Disability is not inability

People with Disabilities (PWDs) face numerous challenges which include negative attitudes, stigmatization, and discrimination; all of which compromise their ability to fully participate in day-to-day societal activities.

A walk in Narok streets showed a number of PWDs, begging for money or food stuff from good Samaritans, which is their sole source of livelihood.

But John Kibe Nderitu, 52, a PWD and a cobbler by profession, is making a living from his shoe repair and shining business.

Kenya News Agency met Nderitu busy at his work station, located at the Narok main stage. A heap of worn out shoes laid beside him, and three casual labourers, were working beside him, an indication that his work has attracted many customers.

He revealed that he was born in Kihoto village, Nyandarua County. When he was barely two years old, Kibe was hit by polio, which led to irreversible paralysis on his left leg.

Despite his situation, his parents never looked down on him but took him to Olkalau Primary School, to acquire education and later joined Joy Town Secondary School in Nyandarua County.

When he completed his secondary education in 1991, Kibe had an ambition that he should be someone great in the society and that he would never beg sympathy from people.

He joined Nyandurua Rehabilitation Centre, where he pursued a course in shoe making and repair in 1992.

“I decided to be a cobbler because there are those things that I can do, because of the nature of my disability. Shoe making is a job I can do easily,” said Kibe.

After completing the course, he opened a shoe repair in Molo town, where he worked for several years and later he was blessed with a wife Hellen Mujiro and four children, all girls.

In 2004, Kibe migrated to Narok town in search of greener pastures, where he is now settled with his family.

Despite the low income, Kibe believes that good things in life come with gradual growth- from good, better to best- advising people not to give up, until they achieve the best.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are,” is a slogan that drives him in life. He is independent; he has a house, raised a family and his adult kids still look to him for support.

Nevertheless, he narrated that he has passed through many challenges among them, discrimination and stigmatization, because of his physical appearance.

However, he swore not to give up in life but continue doing what he does best until people gain confidence in him.

“My life is not defined by disability. I live a normal life like any other person. You can see I have employed three casual labourers, to help me in my business. I have educated my children without any support from people,” said Kibe.

He urged people with disabilities to join hands and do what they could to better their lives instead of begging in the streets or staying idle in their homes.

“Disability is not inability. Being disabled does not mean you should depend on other people for survival as people will start avoiding you and viewing you like parasites. Like for my case, I decided to find a unique job that suits me,” he advised.

Kibe also called on parents raising children with disabilities, not to give-up in life as their children could become professionals and problem solvers in the society.

“God has a good plan for every child. Do not hide your child because he or she is disabled. Instead, give them a decent livelihood by taking them to school and allowing them to interact with others. By doing this, the children will realize their talents,” he continued.

By Ann Salaton

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