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Disability not inability for Emmanuel Francis a phone ‘technician’

By By ALEX NAMULIRO and FRANCIS ONTOMWA | Aug 26th 2013 | 3 min read


Kakamega County: Twenty-eight-year-old Emmanuel Francis is no ordinary man but one who has fought many adversities in life and stood the test of time.

Although he was born with physical challenges, Francis has defied the odds and his passion for electronics has endeared him to locals of Eshirotsa village, Khwisero constituency in Kakamega County.

When you first meet him, his enthusiasm for life strikes you quickly; he is buoyant and does things with a precision that is a sight to behold.

Francis’ curiosity about things electronics has made him an expert in unblocking SIM cards for residents who pay a little fee for his services.

“I love electronics, in particular mobile phones. I get instructions from mobile service providers and use this to help people recover their pin numbers. From this venture, I make something small that enables me to  push on with life,” says Francis, the fifth of seven children.

Patricia Khaemba, 34, is a beneficiary of Francis’ services. Last week, her sim card was blocked and she could not think of any other person to help her.

“He is a good friend and when I had this setback, I rushed to him for help. I have heard about how good he is with this kind of thing, and I trust him, so I left the phone with him. When I came back in the evening, he had me reconnected,” notes Khaemba.

Francis operates his mobile phone with admirable precision — using the toes of his right foot, he carefully presses the numbers of the handset without skipping even one digit.

To just prove his prowess, Francis asks for the phone number of one of The Standard’s reporters, which he calls with ease.

The first 15 years of his life were tormenting. He was bedridden due to spinal cord complications, which hampered the full development of his limbs.

His uncle, Ponyochi Kunyobo, who lives with him, says Francis was born prematurely, which prompted doctors to place him in an incubator and it is here that his spinal cord was interfered with.

“He was born prematurely and doctors had him put in the nursery. In the process, his spinal cord was injured and a dark cloud was cast over  his life,” recalls Kunyobo.

“At the time, our family was poor and we could not take little Francis for specialised treatment at the Kenyatta National Hospital, which doctors had recommended,”

That aside, Francis has learnt to live with the challenges and the mere fact that he has never attended formal schooling has not stopped him from dreaming of better things for himself.

“I want to go to school to sharpen my knowledge and be able to achieve my dreams of becoming a technician,” he says in impeccable English, which he learnt from interacting with people and watching television.

He is a beneficiary of the government’s kitty for people with physical challenges.

“I get Sh2,000 every month from the government, which helps me survive and even fend for my siblings. Sometimes, I lend some of the money to my friends and they pay me back with interest,” he says.

An ardent supporter of Manchester United and Sofapaka football clubs, Francis says he hopes his favourite teams would win some trophies this season.

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