Sofia Michael from Lunga Lunga area of Kwale County had a reason to celebrate when she received a wheelchair from the National Council for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD).
Alongside the NCPWD donation the woman who lives in the remote Mwangwei village also received assorted foodstuffs and bedsheets from the county government where she was joined by joyous villagers.
The sexagenarian was left paralyzed 30 years ago after suffering an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), an abnormal tangle of blood vessels connecting arteries and veins, which disrupts normal blood flow and oxygen circulation in the body.
She said she became disabled due to the illness that afflicted her after she gave birth to her lastborn daughter who is 30 years old and added she has sought help from different organizations but with no avail.
The 65-year-old said she rarely left her homestead and increasingly became immobile and could at times be unable to crawl without assistance.
“I don’t know how to express my joy but the wheelchair has come to liberate me from crawling like a child,” she said her eyes filling with tears.
She said she would now be able to move around freely with the wheelchair and even engage in the grocery business to sustain herself.
Her grown-up daughter said they did not know what afflicted her mother and they were too poor and ignorant to seek help and only watched their mother increasingly become immobile and crawl like a child.
She said their situation attracted people outside the remote and inaccessible village near the border with Tanzania after local journalists started highlighting her plight.
The Kwale County NCPWD Coordinator, Joan Koima said the case came to their attention only in the recent past when her plight was highlighted by the local press and pledged to help.
“We were touched by the rare condition that left her paralyzed and made a promise that we will return to her with help and we are happy to deliver on that promise to help,” she said.
“It has taken us long to notice, Ms. Michael because she was not registered with us but we are going to cooperate with other departments who will create awareness on the importance of registering and joining disability groups. In that way, it will be easy for us to find them and give help,” said Koima.
She regretted that many people with disabilities spend their lives isolated at home in the villages fearing discrimination and rejection.
By Shaban Omar/Hussein Abdullahi