02 December 2008
by Simon Wachira Wamae
Simon Wachira (right) found this man in a shanty in Western Kenya. He had been in the same wheelchair for 22 years. (S. Wamae)Nairobi, Kenya:
I work at the Kenyan Paraplegic Organization where we serve people with spinal cord injuries - a vulnerable constituency that grapples with countless rehabilitation and integration challenges. For more information, kindly visit www.kenyanparaplegic.org
Realizing the power of numbers, I reached out to people in the year 2006 when I had just cleared university to form the Serving to Eradicate Poverty (STEP Group). This group encourages people to take a step of service and thereby transform society. It has specific programmes including awareness creation, economic empowerment (income-generating projects), education, conservation among others. I am the patron of this group.
This year, I formed another group for social enterprise - Adroit Communications - that is seeking to build the capacity of people with ideas that can transform society (change makers), incubate projects (help the idea grow) and develop a networking pool for donors/sponsors and servants (originators of projects). I intend to come up with websites for the two groups later in the year.
I am collecting for two worthy causes that I have identified:
1. Mobility devices for paraplegics
Hundreds of paraplegics in Kenya suffer because they can hardly access mobility devices in a country where more than half of the population live below a dollar per day. Without a choice, they source for alternative hazardous devices; e.g using nylon paper instead of a urine bag thereby exposing themselves to the risk of urinary tract infections and death. I intend to request my friends to help me acquire devices like urine bags, corsets and wheelchairs for this vulnerable group under the aegis of the Kenyan Paraplegic Organization.
2. A computer for the autism society of Kenya
I have been an avid supporter of this organization in its fundraising and awareness creation activities. Early this year, the world declared 2 April the World Autism Awareness Day. To commemorate this, I developed an E-newsletter for this organization as a way of bolstering its awareness creation programmes and to demystify this fastest growing developmental disability.
On 5 December (my birthday), I intend to send an appeal to my friends to raise funds and enable this organization to buy a computer to boost its awareness efforts.
The organization is run by an elderly but determined lady with an autistic grandson. It runs on one computer that stores loads of databases of its members hence severely hampering its programmes.