They say disability is not inability and Joseph Kemboi from Amai village, Chesumei Sub County who lives with visual impairment has proved exactly that.
The 58-year-old lived a normal life as a tomato farmer until he lost his eyesight due to the effects of herbicides that got into his eyes accidentally while spraying the plants.
However 20 years later, the father of six has learnt to cope with the situation and has embraced sweet potato, bananas and arrow root farming saying they are resistant to pests and diseases therefore don’t require use of pesticides and herbicides.
Being the sole bread winner for his family, Kemboi says he had to venture into a less tedious form of farming.
Kemboi who uses a white cane to check his surrounding for obstacles while working has set aside half an acre for his farming activities. He adds that slowly he has mastered the art of distinguishing different plants by touching and smelling.
Besides, he says he is able to distinguish weeds from the crops and uproot it while tending his farm.
“I have learnt to accept my situation and learnt new skills to help me move on with life. Being blind has not prevented me from handling my responsibilities as a father. I make sure my family has food on the table and pay fees for my children,” he pointed out
He does most of farming by himself though during planting he usually seek help from his wife or children when they are around. He digs holes for planting bananas all by himself.
The farmer says he digs holes to plant banana stems alone adding that his produce is only meant for local market as it was difficult for him to access distant market due his condition.
“I am not earning enough from my sales since I mostly sell the produce to brokers at low prices. Am appealing to the government to develop ways of assisting persons with disabilities economically,” he pleaded.
According to a neighbour Mr Benard Tarbei, Kemboi has been a role model to the society since many people have been encouraged by his exploits despite his condition.
“Being blind has not hindered Kemboi from living a normal life. He has been able to cater for his family unlike other disabled persons who opt to beg in the streets instead of seeking alternative sources of income,” he said
Tarbei appealed to the society to embrace People Living with Disabilities (PWDs) and give them support whenever they need it to boost their self-esteem and make them feel being part of the society.
Kemboi also appealed to the society not to look down upon PWDs but instead incorporate them in all aspects of life for instance giving them leadership roles.
He as well encouraged parents not to hide children abled differently but instead show them love and teach them survival tactics, focusing on their abilities rather than the disabilities.
“When given a chance, PWDs can perform incredibly well in different fields and evade dependency syndrome,” he said.
By Jepkoech Jackline