For many disabled people, their only hope to eke a living is through relying on their friends and relatives while others prefer being on the streets and asking for some few coins from passers-by but for Josphat Kamau Mwangi the case is different.
KNA visits Kamau in a quarry located on the outskirts of Nyahururu town where several people are crushing stones while seated. From a far, they all seem to be working normally until Kamau recognises us and signals our team towards his heaps of ballast.
Kamau is a person living with disability; he got polio while still a young boy but that did not hinder him from working like other people around him. He has gone against all odds to eke a living from his own sweat.
At 74 years he is still looking strong. He puts on his special glasses that prevent some stone pieces from hitting his eyes.
“I was born normal but before I reached the age of one year, I got polio and my legs paralysed. I started working in the quarry 4 years ago. It is a good venture but not so lucrative.
“At one point I get lucky while at some point I have to sleep hungry. I crush three wheelbarrows of stones in a day, each wheelbarrow costs Sh.200, so on a good day I can make around Sh600 if a buyer comes my way. It is a good amount but which hardly meets my obligations,” says Kamau.
He tells us that he came to Nyahururu as a guitarist under the Thompson falls urban council but after 12 years they were rendered jobless when the music band ended.
He then ventured into mending shoes in Nyahururu bus terminus and later decided to move to the quarry to be a stone crusher.
With a family of three, a bedridden wife and five grandchildren all under his roof, Kamau says he has no choice but to keep grinding.
The greatest challenge to his job he tells us is the unpredictable weather changes.
“I walk with my hands slowly to and from home. I always get rained on easily because I am unable to move fast when it’s raining. Moreover, whenever it rains heavily, the quarry is always flooded and I cannot move my stones to a higher ground. I am left to wait for the sunny seasons to continue with my stone crushing job,” says Kamau.
He challenges the youth who are still energetic that jobs are available. He urges them to take advantage of their healthy bodies to get something from whatever job that comes their way instead of someone just staying idle.
He says that some people ridicule him telling him to move to the streets using a wheelchair if he wants to earn a lot of money.
His appeal to other disabled people is that they should think of an income generating venture which will make them less reliant on other people.
A few metres from Kamau we meet Daniel Mwangi, a fellow quarry worker who tells us that Kamau is a hardworking man despite being disabled.
He says that most buyers try to overlook Kamau’s disability situation and offer a low price for his ballast but they try as much as possible to intervene.
“At some point we go without work. At some point we go for over a week without anything. I would want to ask the government to consider the elderly working in the quarry or the disabled like Kamau,” says Mwangi.
Kamau, has however vowed to share his story with anyone out there so that he can be a good example to other people living with disability that their situation is not limited to just asking for help but they can as well work on their own.
By Antony Mwangi