NO HOPE AS UHURU AND RUTO FAIL TO HONOR PLEDGE MADE TO PERSONS WITH ALBINISM
By Joseph Sosi | March 1st 2017
The government has remained unlikely to implement it's pledge to support persons living albinism in meeting their needs with most families with such children straining to provide them with the special education and the care they deserve.
During the first-ever Mr and Miss Albinism pageant held at Nairobi’s Carnivore on Friday 21, 2016, Deputy President William Ruto pledged that the government was committed to meet the needs of persons living with albinism.
The pageant was organised by Albinism Society of Kenya to redefine how persons living with albinism are viewed in society as part of the campaign dubbed beauty beyond the skin.
The Deputy President was quoted by the dailies saying the government will give money for children with albinism in primary schools, university and postgraduate programs to support their education.
"The government will pay Sh37,000 for every child who has albinism to cater for their primary school education. We will also pay Sh70,000 every year for every child with albinism in an undergraduate programme,” the DP was quoted in the Sunday's Standard newspaper on October 23,2016.
He promised that the government would also pay an annual Sh100,000 to post-graduate students and that he together with President Kenyatta would donate a million each to support albinism society of Kenya.
The Albinism Society of Kenya, founded by nominated Member of Parliament Isaac Mwaura has however not seen any goodwill from the state heads to that end.
The society's programs officer Daniel Shisia has said they had been making follow ups to the pledges but had not been fruitful. He however, confirms only being aware of the Sh2 million donation that would come from the president and his deputy.
He said that he had not heard of the promise the Deputy President made to students with albinism.
"We have tried to have the pledged donation made through several follow ups but the society has not received the money yet," said Mr Shisia.
Nineteen-year-old Sherleen Lumumba is a Maseno University undergraduate student and was born in Kakamega County as the only one with the skin condition among five of her siblings.
She is a model and had taken part in the pageant after emerging the first runners-up Miss Tourism Kakamega County.
Sherleen says that she banked the promise in the statement by the Deputy President at the spectacular event last year but had not received any information on its progress from the society and her parents had paid all her fees.
In Kisii County,Bogesaka village of Nyamache Sub-county Mrs Josephine Kayago has been widowed for ten years and raising her six children, two of whom were born with albinism has not been easy after the death of her husband in 2007.
Initially, her family relied on farming for livelihood as they could grow tomatoes and other vegetables as cash crops enable them provide for their children's needs.
She says that her first and third child were all girls born with albinism and had been excited on the day the commitment had been made by the deputy president.
"When my daughter heard about it she was overjoyed and came home saying it would be easier for me to support her younger siblings given the government was moving to support her education together with that of her younger sister with the condition but it has since turned out to be lie," said Mrs Kayago.
The family had to part with at least Sh240, 000 to see their daughters through primary education at St Oda Aruor primary school as their daughters could not find it easy studying at local schools as it was unlikely for the teachers to attend to their special needs and could not stand the labeling by other pupils.
The two later joined the Salvation Thika high school for the blind where they required Sh42, 000 each as fees and an additional Sh10,000 for personal effects and travelling to and from school.
Since she could not work alone in the farm after the death of her husband, she was left with a dairy cow that could earn her Sh600 daily and could bring her close to meeting ends.
The family woke up and found the cow dead and its then two-months-old calf can be seen at its shed on my visit to their home and will soon bring forth a calf.
Her daughter Nancy after successfully clearing her secondary education joined Mosoriot Teachers Training College and graduated two years ago into the job market.
The certificate is withheld at the college over a Sh10,000 arrears and her younger sister will not join college any soon as her certificate is still at the Thika High school for the blind over a Sh 10,000 fees balance.
Her mother says he has not been able to clear their fees and collect them as all she can raise is not even enough to sustain their other sister who recently joined The Kenya Methodist University.
Nancy says she had always wanted to be a teacher to help learners with special needs from the day she realised how her teachers in primary and high school could teach with concern and care for all and feels her training in college had equipped her with the requisite skills. "I always wanted to be like my teachers as they handled all our needs in a friendly and caring way. I want to be just like them to teach pupils with special needs and i know they will be much motivated like I used to be," she says.
She decided to stand out of the odds and work for a private school near her home to help raise some money to clear her college fees to enable her posses her certificate but since she joined the academy as a teacher in January 2016, all has not gone well with her expectations. She says at times she receives Sh300 at the end of the month
She says at times she receives Sh300 at the end of the month but she has not quit attending to pupils.
She remembers vividly how in 2013, days before joining college, together with her mother, they had joined other people with disabilities at the Nyamache Sub-county offices for registration and had been promised aid but had not received any yet.
Her mother says the only aid her daughters had received was sun glasses and body lotion while in high school. She also remembers having benefitted from the constituency development fund bursaries occasionally but without any special allocations as one would expect. She has since received some support for her children as partial orphans only for the last two years despite having been in that state for ten years.
"In some forums we have been told that only those who are incapacitated and grounded completely by various disabilities can be supported and not those that can walk and so can do some work like we who are born without albinism and since then we never want to come out because such barriers have been erected on our way by those who take charge of various programs, " says Nancy.
She says that she longs for the day special education will be free as many had been denied a chance to access it due to its costly nature and wonders why there is free primary education that does not cater for the needs of such pupils properly forcing parents into not educating their children as they desire.
She says if the deputy President fulfils his pledge, he would pursue further studies and realise her dreams and will then be in a better place to support her other siblings and help he sister join a college or technical institution.
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