Tuesday, 12 June 2012

CHANGE: How bad do you want it?

The past three years have changed me, my values and ideologies are totally different now. Its quite impressive. One of the biggest compliment was when my dad visited last year and commented at how mature I have become..mmhhh:)) After having Fifi I knew i was going to be a stay at home mum, I didn't know for how long but I knew I couldn't leave her in a stranger's care at an early stage.
My desire for development motivated by my own disability saw me scour a variety of resources for information specific to development and disability. This is when i came across Mobility International USA (MIUSA). An exceptional organization offering leadership and development exchange programs for women with disabilities. Attending any one of MIUSAs workshops would be a dream for any woman from a developing nation, let alone a disabled woman. The networks one would create would be an invaluable resource.
However, getting accepted into any of their programs is extremely difficult due to the competitive application process, not to mention the daunting visa application procedure at the US Embassy.
There is hope though, the US Foreign Policy stresses the importance of women in development and as we strive for a more inclusive society in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, I believe this policy is also referring to women with disabilities and the importance of the participation of these women in leadership and decision making positions. 
This is an excerpt of a speech delivered by Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the Heinrich Boll Foundation Event in Washington DC on January 19, 2012 which she says “We all know that to ensure sustainable development, among the challenges we need to address are those posed by climate change, natural resource degradation, gender inequality, and the shortcomings of the global economy. 
To do this, we need to harness the immense human capacity to innovate and develop solutions to these and related complex, interconnected challenges. And no effort to advance sustainable development will succeed that does not take into account half the world’s population. We’ve known this for some time, but recently, and in large part due to all of you, I believe there is greater awareness of these issues. Momentum is building to not only acknowledge the vital role that women can and must play in building a sustainable future, but the need for action to unlock the potential they represent. 
First, we must continue to elevate women’s leadership and participation in key policy bodies. Women should have an equal seat at the table in decision-making processes that impact environmental policies and natural resource investment decisions at all levels of government. From local village councils, to cities, to national planning processes, to international and multilateral development institutions and funds, it is essential that policies and programs be instilled with a spirit of inclusion, innovation, and equal participation of women”.

She continues “The United States is doing its part to facilitate women’s participation and to raise the profile of these issues on the international stage. Just this past year, my office supported the participation of grassroots women in several significant conferences on sustainable development issues and how to promote women’s entrepreneurship opportunities and markets for them in their countries”.

The UN Under-Secretary-General Sha Zukang, who is in charge of the upcoming Rio+20 Conference for the United Nations, stated: “I have said it before – and I say it again today – that in many ways, sustainability is about women. Society flourishes when women’s leadership, creativity, and initiative are recognized, embraced, and harnessed”.

In 1995, at the UN 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton delivered an historic speech on women’s rights as human rights. Moreover, as Secretary Clinton has noted, women use their incomes to create a multiplier effect in local communities because they disproportionately spend more of their earned income on food, healthcare, home improvement, and schooling. Unlocking their full potential requires removing the barriers that women still face disproportionately – including limited access to training, finance, technology, and markets, among others.

As I read and research for more opportunities for women with disabilities this is what i have come to realize, we need to stand up to be acknowledged, if you cannot stand, speak out, shout if thats what it takes to be heard. No one will hold your hand and show you the way, you have to clear your own path. Opportunities for growth and development are immense, but you have to look for them. They will not come looking for you.  My sisters, you will face hinderances, rejections and obstacles, doors will be shut in your face, insults hurled your way but do you tire and grow weary? NO! You only become stronger in your resolve.
How bad do you want change? Change does not come easy, nor does it come to those that slumber!
I am encouraged, I am strengthened. I have been rejuvenated.
They have awoken the activist in me, and woe unto those who stand in my way!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Sorry i have been quiet, i keep telling myself i need to buy me a tab, for ease of communication, it would definitely make blogging easier and fun!
Anyway, i've been great! Past two weeks i have been helping facilitate a training program on Kenya Sign Language. And since i have not had any exposure with members of the deaf community, i was keen to learn and interact.
I must admit i haven't had this much fun in a training/workshop in a very long time!

There are so many misconceptions, so many false truths, so much to learn about Deaf culture, the DO's and DON'Ts. and don't get me started on the actual sign language!!! Sooo fascinating!
I couldn't wait to get home everyday and teach Papa and Fifi some signs.

As an advocator of social inclusion, it is important to remember to include ALL disabilities in all aspects and it sad to note that deaf people are often forgotten. Strange and sad that despite being disabled, i also have the ability and capacity to discriminate. I guess its a human vice after all, but we ALL have to continually strive for a more inclusive society.
This workshop has opened my eyes, and i am humbled and so blessed.

Thank you Mercy, Susan, Isabel, Leonida and Mumbi for introducing me to your world, i am richer today because of you.

God Bless.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Yay, New Beginnings!!!!

So alot has happened these past few weeks...i got back to work after staying home with Fifi for 17 months! Its been great but its time for mama to do something for mama:) I started work at the NCPWD (National Council for Persons with Disabilities) beginning of the month and i am PSYCHED!!!!
Enjoying it totally!
I am learning so much about the Disability Community in Kenya, the incentives offered by the Government of Kenya to persons with disabilities, the advocacy and disability mainstreaming activities, the resources available for persons with disabilities, the partners and donors on board the disability rights movement..so much information is out there, and much more is being done!

I just wanted to touch base and i plan to update with more info!
Much love:)

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Sunny sunny holiday

Been thinking a lot about going to Mombasa lately, it may something to do with Easter holidays around the corner or maybe it because a  friend is driving down with her family; i don't know!
Either way, it's been awhile since we went on holiday and it would be good to take some time out.
I got to thinking about the time i went on holiday in Turtle Bay Resort, Watamu with my girlfriends and i really wanted to get in the water but because my prosthesis isn't waterproof i couldn't. I remember how frustrating it was for me. I was a good swimmer before my accident, totally loved the water but now so many factors seemed to be against me! Such a dilemma for little ol' me:(
As a mum, i don't want to limit my baby, i want to give her access to everything! I'm sure other mums out there can relate. More importantly, i don't want to be the reason my baby hasn't done this or that! It's heartbreaking for me!
So i now have to figure out a way to take her swimming, the list is long but we'll start with swimming!
A few things i have to wrap my head around;
1. Should i keep my prosthesis on or off in the pool?
2. Should i try to hide my imperfections or should allow the rest of the world to stare and judge me?
3. Should i look for a private secluded pool or a nearby public pool?
Decisions, decisions!!!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

I have to GO!!!

Hubby, baby and I went for a drive this past weekend. It was beautiful seeing all the development on the roads (Thika Road, to be precise) it's actually a little scary driving and having to keep up the speeds. I don't know how i'll manage when i go back to school in May.
So, anyway, we drove past USIU, Kenyatta University, JKUAT in Juja, went into Thika town for a quick look see, as we left Thika town, we saw many beautiful yummy pineapples by the roadside, all i could do was wish we could stop to buy but we didnt! Hubby promised we would on our way back though:) We drove for a bit and had to stop at the Kenol-Kobil at Makuyu because Fifi suddenly didn't want to sit in her car seat anymore. I jumped in the back with her to keep her company and also feed her.
We drove past the Murang'a turn and headed towards Makutano, i was amazed by all the fresh vegetables available, and the prices were good too!
As we got into Makutano, mama had to pee. Where to go was the big question? Hubby promised to take me to a hotel where he had lunch one time when working in the area. Trusting him with my life i said, i could hold till we got there! He drove into a little roadside "motel". I dont want to sound judgemental but sleazy would be an understatement. However, I didn't say anything as I was pointed into the direction of the toilets which were in an open area/ parking lot:) Grabbing my wipes, i headed towards the toilet and stench overcame me, but i soldiered on! I got to the toilets, opened the door and saw that it was a pit latrine....and it was full to the brim. I turned and hobbled back to the car. I couldn't GO!
It could have been a number of things that put me off; maybe it was the stench, or the human faeces that were starring back at me, or maybe it was the fact that when you have a prosthesis, squatting is next to impossible. I don't know. All i know it made me think about the difficulties that disabled women and girls have to go through in Kenya.
Going to the toilet is the next easiest thing for an able-bodied person (unless they are constipated, of course!) but when you have a disability, you have a lot to think about.
The limitations are countless. Today, for me it was the pit latrine, last week was the number of steep stairs i had to climb to get to the toilets, last month it was the slippery floor ( i have fallen before in a supermarket, so i am very wary of slippery floors!)
Interesting to point out that some of these things have quick-fix solutions, while others need to incorporated in building laws/policies. Either way, these are not impossible-to-implement solutions and do not need extra finances etc. more like common sense and consideration.
Back to my needing to go, we drove on and i went in a bush against our car. All in all, the drive was a welcome break and we got some pretty decent bounty from all the sellers by the roadside and not to mention local rice from Mwea.
My only regret was not taking pics...aaahh well, there's always next time!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Lets Talk About S.E.X

Talking about contraceptives with other moms at playgroup yesterday got me thinking. First of all, i didn't know about the various options out there. There's the pill, mini pill, a 3 month injection, spermicides(that i didn't know you have to use with condoms), a vaginal ring(not a diaphragm) which acts like the pill apparently, condoms, and finally, the stick thing that is inserted in your arm....its a bit much but all good info!
This was an important discussion for me as we try and plan our family but it may not be everyone's reality especially if you're disabled.
Society has this warped notion that the disabled don't have SEX, why you ask? I don't know! More so women than men, maybe it's easier to assume we don't have any sexual desires than to have to include us in the general majority.
Anyway, this wasn't supposed to be a blame game, i just wanted to reiterate how important social inclusion is, and how targeting disabled women and girls in order to better educate them on sexual matters and their sexual health may not necessarily involve any major changes or big budget adjustments.
We are no different from you; we feel, we hurt, we love:)

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Dont Judge Me

So I take my little girl for playgroup every week, where she gets to play with other babies and i get to socialize with other mums. Sounds good, right? In theory its a dream but this is my reality.
What will i wear?
Anything that wont attract too much attention would be perfect! a sack, perhaps? 
LOL. I'm still a woman and i want to look good. I want to be able to keep up with fashion trends...BUT I unlike the majority I have to consider my prosthetic leg. Its been with me for 13 years, its a part of who i am:)
Anyway, my prosthesis limits my dressing so that i cant wear skinny jeans, short skirts, shorts, leggings...the list continues! Thankfully, i am quite the creator and i have come up with pretty designs to not only disguise my flaws but also keep me looking good.

This is a skirt i made from an old pair of jeans:)