I heard the children scream, “Uuwi, daddy usituue!” (father please don’t kill us!). This was too much for me and I gathered my energy to save them....
I was kicked out from school for being a devil-worshiper, but I was actually epileptic
Stigma and rejection was always part of your childhood. How did this start?
I am the second-born in a family of four sisters, born and raised in Kayole Spring Valley area. I was born a normal child, but after a few years, I started falling ill. I suffered from a mysterious disease that would leave me unconscious for several hours. At the time, I had not been diagnosed yet. People speculated on my illness, with some saying that I was possessed by demons. Others avoided me, saying that I was a devil-worshiper.
How did you cope with this?
It was a harsh environment to survive in, especially when I became a teenager. Neighbours warned their children to avoid interacting with me, alleging that I was possessed by evil spirits. Growing up in isolation killed my self-esteem. I grew up knowing that I was different from other children. After a long time running medical tests, I was finally diagnosed with epilepsy. But this did not end the stigma. People still rejected me and their negative perceptions lingered.
How did you learn to accept your condition?
It was quite tough and it took a long time. High school was the worst phase of my life and I almost gave up on myself. I used to faint a lot, and this caused everyone, both teachers and students, to despise me. This became worse when I was in form three. I was accused of recruiting my fellow students into a devil worshipping cult and was expelled immediately.
What was your turning point?
It happened when I was still at home, having been expelled from school. With my mother’s encouragement, I began doing crafts such as bead work. I also made sculptures of wild animals using cement and sold them. However, this did not last because it was costly. I finally settled on modelling houses using cartons.
What inspired you to model houses?
I have always loved houses. Ever since I was young, I would admire beautiful house designs and then draw them. I would also visit construction sites and just admire how buildings were being made. This fed my passion. One of my childhood dreams was to create unique sketches that could be used by architects to modify buildings.
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Do you remember your first model?
Well, the first sketch wasn’t perfect. However, the second one was a masterpiece. One of my aunts loved it so much that she bought it for Sh300. This was the first income I had ever made.
What does it entail to model a complete house?
Before starting any project, I ensure that I have all my tools, including glue, paints, cartons, pieces of glass and painting brushes. I take between two days and one week to complete a model, depending on the size and design. Most of the time, clients give me their designs, while other times I use my imagination.
What is the most iconic building you have ever modeled?
The State House. It was a lot of work but the end result was worth it. The most expensive piece I have ever made was a mansion which I sold for Sh6,000.
What are some of the challenges you face at work?
The main challenge is lack of capital. I am also still struggling with my illness which sometimes delays production.
What lessons have you learnt from your experience?
I have learnt that when a door is closed, another one always opens. I have also learnt to face rejection; I no longer allow words and negative energy to pull me down. Finally, I have learnt to embrace my condition and now I am ready to face the future regardless of the challenges it may bring.