I am Caroline and this is my story.
I was born with a medical condition called Spinal Bifida. My dad on realizing my disability got separated from my mum. He said my condition is a curse.
Sadly, again when I was still a baby, I lost my mum. I was left under the care of my grandparents. My aging grandparents couldn’t understand the condition that leads to my disability. Later through the advice of relatives and their close friends, they took me to Kijabe Hospital for corrective surgery. After spending one year in the hospital, the surgery was not successful. According to the doctors it was too late to perform any corrective surgeries. All my life I have only known a wheelchair. Despite so much stigma and labeling surrounding my wheelchair lifestyle, I was lucky to have gotten an opportunity of joining a school. I joined Dagoretti Special School for my primary Education, and later on Joytown Sec School for the Physically Handicapped for my high school.
Later in life, I developed a passion for sign language. I had friends who are deaf, and we are close, and this made me learn this language. I wanted to make stories and have fun with them. I, therefore, went to Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE) for some courses on KSL. Also, together with some other close friends including NONDO’s CEO Mr. Hassan, I am a certified Motivation UK Peer Trainer where sometimes I visit National Spinal Injury Hospital and Kenyatta National Hospital to talk to and encourage patients who sustained life-changing injuries or conditions – it doesn’t matter how many times life knocks us down, we should instead turn trials of life into opportunities. I am a sporting lady and currently, I am the captain of the National Wheelchair Basketball Team. I Race in the standard chartered marathon, wheelchair category, and so far, won five times in a row.
Being a woman with a disability is not a walk in the park I have faced countless discrimination and rejections, but I thank God for the far He has brought me. My grandmother used to tell me ‘my daughter know that you are very beautiful’ those words kept me going and raised my self-esteem. I participated in the 1st edition of NONDO’s The Desert Fashion Gala 2017 in Kajiado County. It was my first time to participate in such an event. Even though that year, I have not made to the top three I was inspired and got huge confidences of appearing in front of a massive audience. I modeled with some amazing, beautiful and intelligent fellow girls with disabilities. And last year (2nd edition, 2018) I was crowned the winner. The event happened in a beautiful hotel in Isiolo County called Sarova Shaba Game Lodge- under a clear sky. I got an opportunity of walking down the ‘aisle’ with some cabinet secretaries, Governors and scores of other leaders -I only met before in TVs and newspapers. It was fun!
I must appreciate NONDO for organizing such a unique event and for bringing different communities and cultures to come together; share stories and bring out the beauty, ability, and uniqueness of women and girls with disabilities.
The fashion show prize money together with the prize money from the standard chartered marathon I’m planning to buy a car. In Kenya, public transport is not only difficult but a nightmare for millions of us with disabilities especially wheelchair users. A car is not a luxury for me but a necessity. With now my title as Ambassador of The Desert Wheel Race, I will use the Crown as an opportunity of advocating for access to health care services, family life and reproductive health for women and girls with disabilities.
I am currently dating the love of my life and soon we will be marrying.
Happy Valentine to all beautiful and inspiring couples of this world.