TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF?
Mr. Patrick Kunini is the Director of Nairobi Disabled Empowerment Programme, an organization that empowers disables to actively participate in community development as they become self reliant. He is also Co-Founder of Brethren Fellowship Ministry a faith-based organization that works with communities to advance the word of God. Prior to this, he served as senior Program Manager Kenya Disabled Action Network, he has worked tirelessly to promote and champion the rights of disables both on local and national level coordinating many disables initiatives, his efforts have enabled many disables especially in the slum areas of Nairobi to gain trainings on human rights, Development and inclusion to various positions within the community.
Born and raised in Kakamega county Butere sub County, Patrick was raised by a single mother since the dad passed at my early age. Currently I’m in my early 40s husband and a father of three beautiful girls with my wife expecting, and most importantly a minister of the word of God overseeing a church here in Nairobi.
DEFINE FATHERHOOD IN YOUR OWN WORDS; So far I can say it’s the greatest blessing God has given me, Being a father has helped me grow positively in different areas of my life, so I can boldly say fatherhood has been and still is the best thing that has happened to me, and by saying this it doesn’t mean its easy far from that, its actually very challenging . the challenge as a disabled father is not easy especially raising kids and training them. For my case i was seriously challenged when my first wife passed away and left me with three girls to take care. I successfully did this for five years single handedly until i remarried again.
YOUR EXPERIENCE ABOUT BEING A FATHER FOR THE FIRST TIME; It was overwhelming, the fact that I was given the opportunity to have and be a father to my children was priceless. At some point I was worried because I didn’t know what the future holds for me and my child, if I would become a good father to my child or if I would be able to provide everything my child needed and if I would be able to carry my child around with me were few of the questions that triggered my mind, the fact that am physically challenged scared me I didn’t know how or where to start when raising my child but we say when God brings a child into our lives He brings the means and ways of survival and that’s what He did. I can say the experience was good because for the first time I became a father and for the first time I had a reason to keep moving and not give up.
HAVE YOU EVER DISCUSSED YOUR DISABILITY WITH YOUR CHILDREN; Yes severally, at first my children had a handful of questions and I had to speak and explain to them in a way they can understand best and I ended up explaining more than once, but finally they understood.
Being physically challenged my first bone was able to see everything and at some point she could not understand why i was bone disabled and not walking like others.
HOW DO YOU BOND AND THE SPECIAL THINGS YOU DO TO ENSURE THEY HAVE MEMORABLE CHILDHOOD MEMORIES OF A GREAT DADDY; Like I said I am a man of God, and the first thing I decided to do is to empower my children with the word of God, and introduce them to activities that can buld their self esteem this is by making my home a fellowship center for my kids to know the importance of fellowship and this has been the greatest platform for I and my kids to bond. Secondly i make time for my kids and during this time i take them for walks in different places of there choice this allows me to have a private and intimate time with them and they are able to speak about everything, this allows me to know there challenges and am able to handle them . Another thing i do is involving my kids in my projects and decision making this has created an environment where my kids and i are able to work together as a team, it has been a great experience as we are able to bring ideas and solve problems together hence strengthening our relationship.
WAS THERE A TIME FATHERHOOD SCARED YOU? TELL US ABOUT IT; Yes certainly, the fact that i was physically challenged and about to be a father scared me, i wondered how life would be and if my child will also be born with some kind of disability. As people with disability its quite a struggle for us to be accepted in the society hence making a lot of things impossible to achieve, like getting a good job is near impossible and i asked myself how would i support my family? This scared me the most,
I was also scared the time my first wife died and i was left alone with the kids and they were very young, this forced me to drop everything and be there for them during this time i was real scared.
WHATS THE MOST EXCITING EXPERIENCE FOR YOU AS A FATHER SO FAR; So far fatherhood is exiting in so many ways, First i get to experience the love of my children and as i see my children grow in fearing and loving the lord it excites me. Having children or people around you who actually understands and appreciate you is a good feeling. Secondly, to overcome all the odds and being able to raise my children despite the challenges, its actually very fulfilling for me to see that my kids are able to grow normally like all the other children, also that they are able to show me off to other children in school and say this is my dad with great pride. So yes, i can actually say with great joy that fatherhood is an exciting experience by just being called a dad.
I have also seen my girls grow where now i can send them and they are responsible assisting me im my poultry project at our home
WHAT DID YOUR FATHER NOT DO FOR YOU THAT YOU ARE DOING FOR YOUR KIDS; My dad never got a chance to raise me since he died when i was still young, so he never got a chance to do much for me like educate me, taking care of me or even teach me how to become a man. Considering my disability my family sow no need of me to go to school and so i never got that chance to go to school and get a proper education for myself, my kids on the other hand i swore to work harder and provide them with an education, shelter and proper clothing something i never got to experience, it excites me each time am able to provide for my kids.
WORD OF ADVICE FOR FATHERS-TO-BE; You have a choice, choose your children whether born with or without disability, just love and take care of your kids regardless of anything.
teach your children the ways of the Lord and you will be sure they will never depart from it and this is the best weapon you can leave your child with. Last but not least, don’t be scared of fatherhood, its actually the best blessing one can have, children are your tomorrows strength so invest on them.
FINALTHOUGHTS TO GUYS WITH DISABILITIES AND SOCIETY IN GENERAL; For people with disability, the worst thing you can do is to give up on yourself always believe and depend on God entirely, and to the society,
Refuse to be used and come up with your life plan including working hard and not begging.