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From grass to grace: Story of a differently-abled woman

A car accident can be a life changing moment for anyone. In that split second, when a crash occurs, one’s life could be turned upside down.

That is the story of Mercy Jelagat, 24 years old from Kapkeben village, Aldai Sub County in Nandi County who was involved in a grisly road accident while heading to Kisii in September 2018 to study a three-month course as plant operator.

However, 5 years later, Jelagat who suffered spinal cord injuries that left her confined to a wheelchair up to date is vying for a position of Member of County Assembly (MCA) for Kaptumo Kaboi ward.

Narrating her ordeal, Jelagat who graduated from Lessos Technical Training Institute last year stated that the accident did not kill her morale nor broke her spirit of becoming a leader.

“For one to change the world, he or she must change his community first. That’s the reason I have decided to vie for that post to represent the interest of our people,” she said.

Filled with ambition and motivation, Jelagat could not allow her paralysed legs to hold her political dream back. While the rest of aspirants are top on the high-end vehicles, she rolls her two wheeled chair criss- crossing villages seeking for votes.

The first born in a family of three stated that disabled people have been looked down upon for years in the community adding that her aspirations for Ward legislative post is to prove to the community that disability is not inability.

“I do not have a disability; I have a gift. Others may see it as a disability, but I see it as a challenge. This challenge is a gift because I have to become stronger to get around it and smarter to figure out how to use it,” pointed out Jelagat

When asked what motivates her in politics, Jelagat stated that she wants to serve her community better adding that it has been left behind in terms of development.

During an interview with KNA before she boarded a motorbike for her daily meet the people tour, Jelagat who launched her campaign three months ago believes she is the best bet.

She will face off with five aspirants including David Koech who is the leader of majority in the county assembly of Nandi for the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party ticket.

In spite of acquiring a new status as a result of the accident, she claimed that being considered among vulnerable groups in the society won’t deter her from achieving her political motive.

She implored the electorate to focus on leader’s abilities and not their physical challenges adding that people living with disability when given a chance they perform better and deliver results.

“When I meet people during my campaigns, some are welcoming and others sympathise with my situation but I always put a strong face to demystify the stereotype,” she said.

She stated that the race has never been rosy considering her financial challenges and inability to move around to attend various meetings. Jelagat is among three aspirants living with disabilities in Nandi County vying for various elective post.

According to the patron for disabled aspirants, Daniel Kogo, the society should embrace people living with disabilities and trust them with leadership roles.

He said there is need for voters to put the minority groups in leadership positions instead of relying on their slim chance of being nominated or appointed.

“It’s never late to start afresh and having a disability should not be an impediment to going after one’s dream. Let us stand up and be counted,” he said.

Kogo further said: “My advice to other disabled people in the society would be, concentrate on doing things you like. Your condition does not prevent you from doing so and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.”

By Linet Wafula

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