Was I born during the wrong times, to wrong parents, in the wrong environment? or was I one of the cultural rejects?
My story is almost like that of Moses in the bible. In the bible the pharaoh wanted to get rid of the male children born during that time but Moses mum wanted her son to live. She hid him in a basket by the shores of the river Nile and from a distance kept a watchful eye on him. sure, enough he survived and was raised by the same people who would have killed him. In my case the Pharaoh of my time was the myths and negative cultural beliefs associated with disability. the culture that almost took my life. Two male children in our then neighborhood were born.
Not during the same day but the same period. One of them was me. It was at the age of two when my parents discovered I couldn’t walk because I had a disability. I was not the only one my neighbor’s son too. Automatically they thought a curse has befallen on them. Instead of taking us to the hospital to get us some help, a unanimous decision was made by both parties to get rid of both of us in order to avoid the curse because of our disabilities.
At 2:00 am early morning, when our parents were sure everyone is asleep and no one can witness the atrocity, they were about to commit, we were taken to lake Turkana. A place where the journey of our lives which has barely begun was to end. The father of the other child forced the mum to kill him. she strangled him to death and threw him into the lake. When my turn came, my mum was hesitant as she told me later. She couldn’t disobey my dad, yet she wanted me to live even if raised by someone else. She found a basket may be similar to that of Moses.
This kind of basket is used to draw water out of the boats. She put me in it letting me float on the lake may be slowing my death or hopping somehow, I will be saved. She told my dad that she has killed me, and they hurriedly left me there. In a crocodile infested lake. I was not meant to die, whatever happened I had to live to narrate this. Something caught the basket I was put in to stopped it from float further into the deep waters.
I believe it was a gordian angel who stopped it and watched over me the whole time I was there. Very early that morning, some tourists who had come to swim and leisure around the lake found me still alive and took me to olkalau disability and rehabilitation centre in Nyandarau. A catholic centre. The sister in charge received me and cared for me. Since they did not know my name, they named Bellington. I never knew the real reason for me being at the centre, I thought it was because of my disability. Like most of the children at the centre, I never went for holidays but we didn’t see it as a big deal. Looking back, I think it was unfair.
Then during the 2007 elections all hell broke loose. The election conflict was so bad my rescuer had to run away to safety back to her country. The centre was left without any one to take care of it. All the children were taken to different centres. I was taken to John Paul centre for physically handicapped in Turkana. I continued with my studies there until I finished primary school. Some well wishers came on board and paid for our fees in high school.
When I was in form three NONDO took over and paid for the remaining years. I finished high school and applied for a diploma course at Mount Kenya university. Through CDF brasseries and national council for persons with disabilities, I was able to successfully complete the diploma course. On completion, although I wanted to continue with my studies, it was not possible. Therefore, I decided to look for a job to sustain my living and if possible, continue with my studies. I was lucky I got an internship with NCPWD where I was paid 15000 which was barely enough for my upkeep. The internship ended and I got another one with that also ended. After struggling for a while, I finally got employed at huduma centre Turkana as a pension officer.
My appeal is for more awareness to be created on disability to demystify the myths associated with disability. This is what almost took my life. I would not like what happened to me, to happened to anybody else or any other child.
I know so many children have lost their lives this way which is very unfortunate. Disability is not a curse is not a choice.