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Neglected And Forgotten, Kiandutu PLWDs And The Elderly Cry For Help!

Eden Centre Director Eunice Muringi Mwangi addressing PLWDs and the elderly at the rented centre's yard

When leaders say that they are empowering the community, they fail to put all the emphasis on “together.”

Kiandutu Slums in Thika West Sub-County is home to over a 1,000 Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWDs), orphans, vulnerable children and those living with HIV-AIDS and elderly people. Their numbers are likely to increase as days go by.

Most of these people are homebound and have little or no family support. They have been so neglected in their homes by family members and the society to a point that some of them have been left 'wanting to die'. They have survived a life of depression, having to endure episodes of illness and rejection during much of their lives.

For the last few years, Eden Centre, an organisation based in the slum and which was started by parents with PLWDs, has been a safety net for these poor, sick, elderly and disabled people in Kiandutu and other slums within the sub-county. They have been providing in-home nursing care, medical equipment, food, or just a friendly visits – all at no cost to these groups of people.

In an exclusive interview with Thika Town Today, Eunice Muringi Mwangi, a founding member and Executive Director of the organisation, lamented of how the leaders at the grassroots have forgotten the disabled people. She noted too that the society viewed disabled people as useless liabilities that have no role to play in society.

“None of the leaders we elected have ever visited us or lent us their ears even after writing numerous letters to them. There have no projects or programmes whatsoever for disabled people. To be sincere with you, without our services, these would have been forgotten or would have probably died of neglect at home alone. Our goal has always been to help them live in a way that is healthy and as independent as possible for as long as possible,” said Eunice.

She added that those living with disabilities had to confront an uncaring society that regarded them as a nuisance.

“When they approach members of the public for help in starting small business ventures such as green groceries, dressmaking or hair dressing, they are generally dismissed as beggars. These people are severely marginalised and among the poorest in the society,” she quipped.

Eunice pointed out that disability was an important issue in poverty reduction and alleviation efforts as having a disability increased the risk of poverty. She reasoned that this was due to the fact that most of them were excluded from schools and opportunities to work. They were also prone to malnutrition, disease attacks as well as the high cost of medication.

“The government does not offer them any waiver and they are expected to raise money for medication regardless of the fact that they even cannot fend for themselves,” said Eunice.

27 year old Susan Wanjiru Muthoni, a single mother of two, said that she lost her ability to walk after she developed complications while giving birth to her first-born son who is now 9 years old. She is now paralysed from the waist downwards and divorced after siring her 3 year old son with her run away husband.

“My appeal to anyone out there is to get some capital to start a small business so that I can feed my family and see them through their education. People should stop discriminating us too. Remember, ‘As you sow, so shall you reap’. Please think twice before neglecting people living with disabilities as we are all potential candidates to disability,” she concluded.

It is a similar case for 43 year old Martin Gakuo Muturi whose limbs paralysed from the knees downwards a few years back.

Martin was a small trader in the slums but ended up being bedridden when he got this disability.

His business collapsed and now has to depend on his elderly mother and neighbours for food and other essentials. His appeal too is to get someone who could help him get medication to rectify his situation.

“I just want to get back on my feet again and work for myself and my aging mother. I have never received any assistance from the government and all my attempts to reach our elected leaders have been in vain,” said Martin.

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