text by Zoé Paris

How a mother’s confidence is her child’s future!

On Thursday, 20th of May, I met the first mother willing to share her story with me. After an hour and a half, we ended the talk with a “bye!” and “see you soon!”. I shut my computer, speechless and in shock. At that moment, I realised how intense and countless the struggles were for these mothers and their children.

Every mother told her story with conviction, and shamelessly. Why should they be ashamed, you may ask? Indeed, they have no reason to be. But the society they live in questions their motherhood, their responsibility to give birth to a healthy child, their worth.  Whispers, judgments, comments are everywhere around them, and they can be so harmful.

In fact, myths about disabilities are still deeply rooted in today’s Kenyan culture. The most prominent stigma is the belief that disability is a punishment on the mother for having been sinful, ignorant, or even unhealthy. Therefore, disability is seen as a curse, a spell cast onto the mother. And there are plenty more, like the belief that the mother is haunted by demons. Ultimately, it was up to the mothers alone to deconstruct the complex stigma around disabilities for the sake of their child’s future.

All of them understood that listening to these lies and whispers in the street lead them nowhere. As they confidently spoke to me, I found that they have a strong sense of direction and determination. They know where they are and where they are going. In fact, many are ambitious for both children with disabilities in Kenya and themselves.

“Children, with and without disabilities, are the future of Kenya.”

Mama Mercy, 25-year-old mother living with her two daughters, told me about her drive to change Kenyan politics.  Indeed, in Kenya, seniors with disabilities financially benefit the most from the government whereas children are almost forgotten. “Which is so paradoxical” continued Mama Mercy.

Others have though-out projects to earn their living independently. Mama Edgar is currently in her training program to create her own textile business. Mama Isaac enthusiastically developed her plan to open her own hairdressing salon. That way, she could ensure Isaac’s safety as he could be with her all the time. This is not the case today, and it scares her the most.

In fact, this is the prominent struggle for mothers who cannot take their child to the centre daily. They have to choose between working or ensuring their child’s care.

Oftentimes, a neighbour or family member takes care of their child. But they are not always aware of all the special needs of the child.  

Some mothers are lost, confused, tired, and helpless at times. Financial difficulties increase and their future becomes more precarious. Because they are helpless, their self-confidence and determination may start to disappear. Yet I wish these mothers knew how strong and inspiring they are. Because after all they struggle through every single day, they are still standing. They still choose to wake up and hustle. They choose life, for both their child and themselves.

While the society whispers in their ear that they will not make it, they build themselves in silence, give their child the best childhood they can, and prove the society wrong.

So, I invite you to tell them how inspiring they are. How worthy their ambition is. Communicate your support by helping them go through their daily life.  Every donation is one weight lifted off their chest. It’s their relief of providing their child with at least one day of clean diapers, sufficient food, and proper therapy. By donating, you tell these mothers their child is deserving of this world, or rather that this world is deserving of their child.

Source about the popular beliefs on disabilities:
The perception of disability by community groups: Stories of local understanding, beliefs and challenges in a rural part of Kenya (plos.org)