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The Life And Times Of The ‘Queen Of Disability Kenya’, Her Vision And Dreams.

In March this year, she was crowned the first ever beauty queen for persons living with disability in a colourful event held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), Nairobi that saw contestants from all across the country expressing their struggle as well as their day to day challenges.

We bounced onto Jacinta Wambui in an event to nurture slum girls’ talents in Umoja Primary School Thika and agreed to give us her story.

28 year-old Jacinta, a resident of Mang’u Village, Gatundu North in Kiambu County, was born without the ability to walk, a challenge that she had to live with till she was 9 years old. Since birth, she was totally dependent on others for mobility. It was not until she was 8 when she made her first baby steps, but with the aid of clippers.

That very moment she managed to support herself, she threw away the clippers and vowed to always be strong enough to walk all by herself. That is the strength that has carried her through till now when she inspires others to ‘free themselves’.

She says that she went through so much psychological and mental anguish in her initial years, since none of her immediate family members would ever understand. She lived with stigma.

“My story is quite unique. I lived a life that I personally wouldn’t wish anyone else to ever go through due to disability. I used to think that I was bewitched. I couldn’t understand why I could not walk just as the other children did. When I managed to walk at the age of 9, it was my first time to leave the house and attend church. It was also my first time to wear a pair of shoe,” said Jacinta.

Being admitted to Joytown Primary Scholl for the Physically Challenged, was the turning point of her life. She realised that she was in fact very blessed in her own way than so many other people who were in worse situations than she was. All her self-pity came to an abrupt end and started being grateful to God for the way she was.

She recalls how one day she miraculously escaped from a burning house even after everyone else ran for their dear lives, leaving her behind helplessly.

“Our house in Dandora went in flames and everyone dashed out to save their lives but I couldn’t because I was on clutches. But miraculously, I was able to leap right through the flames and out of the fire. Only part of my hair caught fire. This act made me feel so special in God’s eyes,” she says. 

After primary school, she joined Jowtown Secondary School and later pursued a diploma secretarial course in Thika Hemland College. Afterwards, she was admitted in Thika Technical Institute for a diploma in Mass Communication but was unable to advance further due to unavailability of funds to pay for school fees.

It is from that point that she decided to pursue her childhood talent in singing and use it to inspire others as well as create awareness to the society on the challenges of Persons Living With Disability (PWDs).

“By God’s grace I was able to raise funds to release my first album. I wanted to use my songs to tell my story. I wanted people to learn from the experiences I went through in my childhood so that no other person would go through the same,” she said.

Through her mission, she came across so many disabled children who had been confined in closed rooms and subjected to so many inhumane conditions. She resolved to push her ministry further by reaching out to those affected in a greater way.

“I once visited a child who had spent over ten years without ever basking in the sun. I prayed to God to grant me the ability to help and rescue more people from such unfortunate scenarios. You know, some parents don’t understand that disability is not an ailment but the plans of God.”

She started a small group of disabled people in her village Mang’u. Through it, she was able to create awareness and raise money to buy wheelchairs for such people and assist them in a variety of ways.
She later registered a foundation, Bacha Disabled Foundation, to assist people with all kinds of disabilities. 

To build confidence and self-esteem among the PWDs, Bacha Disabled Foundation organised a beauty contest for Kiambu’s PWDs that was held at Mount Kenya University.

“The success of that event motivated me to organise a national event that involved all the 47 counties at the KICC, Nairobi. That event opened doors for us since we got an invitation to the ‘Miss Poland Beauty Pageant’ although we weren’t able to participate due to lack of funds,” explained Jacinta.

However, Jacinta laments that it has been a great challenge to reach all the PWDs in the country, more so due to inadequacy of funds to facilitate their mission. The community and the government too, has not embraced the abilities and talents among the over 10 million PWDs. There is also a great challenge in securing jobs and tenders for persons with disabilities.

Majority of the PWDs too lack basic education due to the paradigm amongst the society members.

“The society and the government should value us and take us as one of them. Remember, everyone is a candidate of disability. No one should use us as a bridge to climb to power. I also appeal to my fellow PWDs to also vote their own into leadership so that we can add a voice in the policy decisions that are disability friendly.”

Her appeal?

“When we visit your office, don’t look at us as burden. Please take your time to first listen to my vision. To my fellow PWDs, accept your condition and don’t be dependent on others. You can be a giver too. Do not seek for sympathy. Let’s fight for our space in the society. Let’s demand our rights.”

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