Kenya: My Disability Has Opened My Eyes to New Capabilities

While in his Third Year pursuing a Bachelor's degree in purchasing and supplies at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Brian Muchiri, 26, got involved in a grisly road accident that left him paralysed from his armpits all the way down. He was 20 years old at the time.

"I was in a car with four other people, three of whom died on the spot. After that, life took a 360-degrees turn for me and my family," he says.

His parents had to give up many of their daily activities to care for him. He had to quit school. After the accident, he was bedridden for two years and was completely dependent on his parents.

"It was really tough at the beginning because I was sickly and fully dependent on my carers. I had to defer my studies and I have never returned to school because of my disability as well as financial constraints. I hope to go back to school, only this time, to pursue a course in leadership that I believe will equip me with more information on how to foster better representation of people with disabilities," he says.

DISABILITY

Over the years, Brian has learned to live with disability. He always loved writing and he has begun looking for ways to shine again. In 2015, he started posting short, interesting stories on his Facebook page, Brian Muchiri Waihenya, and he has since built a sizeable following.

"One of my cousins who read my posts on Facebook was impressed by my writing talent and introduced me to the editor of Potentash, a lifestyle blog. After sending her some of my work, I was given a chance and for the first time in my life, I had a job. That was in 2019," he says.

Brian runs a weekly series that sheds light on disability issues and raises awareness on the intricacies of the lives of people with disability.

He also writes for Love Matters Africa, where he seeks to debunk the stereotypes that are often associated with the disabled, their relationships and their sexuality. He also founded Strong Spine Foundation, an initiative that offers support to disabled people and encourages them to love and accept themselves.

"Some of our achievements include contributing to the debate about the need for better accessibility to buildings, and speaking up about the unavailability of adult diapers for disabled people who experience incontinence," he says.

Through Strong Spine Foundation, Brian and his team have supplied diapers to many vulnerable disabled people. They also managed to build a house for an orphaned young man in Njoro.

GREATEST FEEDBACK

"I have also empowered other disabled people to come out, tell their stories and live full lives," he says.

So far, the greatest feedback about his work has been the fact that more and more people in his community have become open to talking about adult diapers, infertility and sexuality, which is usually seen as a taboo subject.

Brian struggles to write long articles because he can only work using his mobile phone, which makes the process tedious.

"Because my fingers don't work normally, I cannot type on the keyboard of a laptop. I do all the work on my phone. Due to the injury to my spine, I encounter new challenges every day. Sometimes I wake up ill and that prevents me from working properly. However, I always ensure that I meet my deadlines because there are stereotypes about disabled people being lazy and I am trying to correct that," he says.

Brian says he has grown to be more independent.

"It started with attending physiotherapy sessions so that I could sit up and feed myself. Then I started combing my hair, before learning to use my phone to write. Getting a motorised wheelchair was the biggest mark of independence for me because with it, I could move from place to place.

"As a writer, I have grown tremendously in the last year. My work continues to have more and more impact on readers, and many more doors are opening for me.

"I have been invited to speak about disability issues at various events, including on radio stations and TV shows," he says.

More From: Nation

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.