Kevin’s MotherParenting is an embodiment of strength, and resilience of a rock. Today we celebrate a woman with a heart full of love. With a bundle of joy in her arms, she walks the path of life with a strength only God can give. When her sons turns out to have multiple disabilities, she holds on amidst uncertainties and questions. And that smile up there, is a reminder that parenting is boldness.
Martina Navratilova once said that disability is a matter of perception. It is the only club where everyone is an illegible member till death. Any form of disability is not a death sentence but rather requires acceptance of the limitations that come with it for one to maximize the abilities hidden in the disability.
In the beautiful dry plains of Kiserian in Kajiado county. A bouncing baby boy was born in the year 1968. His parents, being good Christians named him Moses after the great leader who led the Israelites to the promised land. One never forgets their roots so they later gave him a Maasai name Koikai. Moses Koikai was to grow into a handsome young man.
Following in the footsteps of his parents he became a committed Christian living in harmony with everyone and walking in the ways of his maker. Koikai had always wanted to have and raise a family of his own so he worked tirelessly to ensure that his family led a comfortable life. Throughout his young life, he had little or no information about the world of disabilities. This is because there was no member of his immediate or extended family with a disability.
One day he got the best news a married man waits eagerly to hear. His wife was expecting their first child. He was by then living and working in Nanyuki. Wanting to be a good father to his first born child, great preparations started. He shopped and took his wife for antenatal clinics. Nine months later and prolonged labor, Kelvin Koikai was born.
In the Maasai community, having a firstborn son was the ultimate dream of every man. After a few days they were discharged from hospital. Koikai and his wife joyfully went home eager to bring up the young Kelvin the way they had planned.
Five months later, the young Kelvin started having convulsions. Being first time parents, convulsions did not ring any alarm bells in their minds. The major thing that worried them was that a year later, Kelvin would hardly sit unsupported. He could neither support his neck nor speak as is expected of any ordinary child. The now worried couple sought medical attention at Nanyuki hospital where Kelvin was diagnosed with epilepsy. They were referred to the epileptic welfare hospital in Karen.
It was in the hospital that they got a lot of information about how to care for an epileptic child. As days moved on, they also realized that Kelvin had hearing difficulties and was a poor feeder. The news that their son had epilepsy was quite devastating but worse was coming. When some tests were conducted, it was discovered that the area that controlled speech in his brain was damaged and thus little Kelvin would not be able to talk. As if that was not bad news, the mother of all bad news came when they were informed that their son had Autism and mild cerebral palsy.
The distraught parents went home to take care of their special child. Throngs of relatives paid them visits but they later learned that most of them had not come to comfort them but to see for themselves the special child the Koikai’s had. Many blamed Koikai for making his wife to bear him a child away from his ancestral land.” You should have given a sacrifice according to our culture to appease the gods for your mistake,” other’s told the couple.
It emerged that the members of Moses’ extended family instead of supporting him viewed the special child as a form of punishment for their defiance.
The coming of the special child Kelvin thwarted their plans of having children in quick succession. It took seven years for them to have second child, Mark. Little Mark would get emotional whenever he had to beg Kelvin to play with him. When Mark was older, Koikai and his wife explained to him why Kelvin, his elder brother, was unable to play with him. Mark learned to love his special brother Kelvin.
The situation became worse with Koikais’ extended family advising him to get married to another woman who would bear him normal children. Seeing that their advice was falling on deaf ears, the family became even more obstinate to the point of employing crude means to pass their terse message to Moses. At one point, while Moses was away at work, his wife was attacked by some irate family members.
Then need to protect his wife and children made him pluck his family from the comfort of his spacious house in Kiserian to a rental house in Nanyuki where he worked. “Our son’s disability brought us closer to each other rather than dividing us,” Kiokai notes.
He advises parents with special children to seek strength from God and lean on each other for support.
“Do not listen to the misguided opinions of the people who want to discourage you from taking care of the special child,” his wife adds.
In his parting words he says, “Education is the best gift you can accord your child to empower them into independent living. Though special education is quite expensive, make sure you take your child to school regardless. Make an effort to join organizations for persons with disabilities. This will help you realize that you are not alone therefore the journey becomes easier. Moral support is all that parents of children with disabilities require in order to successfully bring up these children.”