Often times having a child is considered a blessing. Infact, in the African setting, having as many children as one can is one of the measures of wealth and happiness in a home but in recent times, the culture of many children is slowly fading and those with many children have now started being stigmatized. For Violet Bwayo aged 55 now; this was her case, her plight, but regardless of it all she stood strong and stood tall.
THIS, is her story.
My name is Violet Bwayo,
I have a physical disability. I am married to Peter Gitau and together, we are blessed with 6 children; Paul Gitau, Joe Bwayo,Samuel Njuguna,Televilian Ndungu ,Susan Wanjiku and Brian Ndungu.
Being a mother is a privilege I do not take for granted. Looking back at our journey and more so as a mother with a disability I can confess there is a lot of stigma and discrimination facing mothers with disabilities.
We happily lived in a bedsiter in Eastleigh Biafra area even though we were evicted severally from the house since we could not afford to pay rent. I have encountered a lot of challenges raising up my kids; working several jobs living hand to mouth.
I remember this one time working as a receptionist in an idian shop and it was really hard for me especially because there’s a lot of criticism towards PWDs and any time I would get to work late (since walking was hard for me and I didn’t have a proper walking stick) I would be insulted and it frustrated me a lot. The salary was too little to provide for a family of 6kids and two parents and sometimes we went for days without eating so we just survived by God’s grace. I felt like giving up many times I won’t lie, but I didn’t. Some how God always came through for me even if it was just with _strungi_ and ugali.
During this time, my husband lost his job and we tried what we could but he never did get any employment even after being called to interviews so with the little funds I got I was able to take my kids to school.
I went to many government offices asking for help but none of them did. They would ask me;
“_Mbona ulipata watoto wengi na haujui malezi yao itatoka wapi?_”
Why did you get so many kids and you know you don’t have the resources to raise them?
This statement really broke me. It devastated me and left me hopeless. I felt like I can’t do it anymore, but with the help of bursaries I managed to educate my kids.
Paul (my first born) completed his forth form in Lenana high school, Joe was in class 8 prepping for KCPE and the rest in primary school by the time I quit the job because the insults, the rude stares and disrespect started affecting my mental health and I decided to quit. My son had been called to the university but he couldn’t go since there was no money for fees so he started a gas refilling job that enabled him to get money and I added what I got and took him to Kenyatta University but he really struggled since he was in and out of school everytime because of school fees. Later on, I went to the National council for People with Disabilities (NCPWD) where I got a volunteer job at the women challenge to challenge and here, I prepared tea for meetings and the entire work force there.
Then came in Safaricom foundation that gave us peanut butter making machine and still bought peanuts for us to this day. Making and selling peanut butter gave me cash that helped me in my kids education and after sometime, I started cooking food and selling to the people working in the NCPWD and through the help of my older Son I have managed to educate all my kids to University and College levels.
Now, only two are still in school. Susan is in Cooperative University pursuing community development, Brian is in form 2 soaring like you would not believe.
I thank God for this far and my advice to those like me is simple; no matter how hard times are, the ups and downs don’t give up on yourself or on getting as many kids as you want. Children are a blessing and that’s that! The rest of it is up to God to handle; including how they will eat. Also, disability is not inability.My disability didn’t limit me to get to where I am right now and it shouldn’t limit you either.