NANYUKI, Kenya (WOMENSENEWS) — Sometimes when I look back on my young life and think about how things could have turned out, I’m overcome as to how the world has changed for me. My mom passed away when I was very young; my grandmother raised me. I had a stroke when I was born so I drooled all over my clothes on the left side of my body.  Many schools rejected me because of my condition. Some pupils would call me names that hurt my feelings. I put up with them until I gave in and stayed at home from school.

By the grace of God, well-wishers came to our village and my grandmother told them about me. They were moved by my story and offered to sponsor me to attend Flying Kites Leadership Academy. There I got the best education and people accepted me the way I was. I was at peace for once.

I remember the first day I entered to a classroom. I felt as if I had been born again. Being with other girls at school and learning together was my favorite part. When I graduated to go to high school I started to worry. Would the new people in the new place treat me the way I was treated when I was young? Then I found Daraja Academy. Here, everyone is like a sister to me. I now feel empowered than ever before. I want to teach other girls back at home some of the skills I am learning at school.

In Kenya, some parents mistreat and abandon their kids because of their disabilities. These children are left helpless and end up becoming street children with no one to take care of them. Girls with disabilities are less likely to be in primary school and are more likely to be victims of sexual violence.  I am grateful that my grandmother took care of me and never neglected me.

After I joined Flying Kites I  was treated for my stroke and stopped drooling. People around my village didn’t want to be associated with me, because of my condition. To my surprise many of them have changed after I received medication and stopped drooling. Being discriminated against for having a disability made me feel bad. People should understand that no one chooses to be born with a disability.  We need to be loved and supported just like everyone else in our community.

As for Flying Kites and Daraja I am so grateful to them to the Americans who founded both of these schools. The love, encouragements, mentorship and empowerment I have received from the founders of the organisations made me forget  that I have a disability. I am smiling as I write this because I am inspired by the hope that people can learn from my story and stop stigmatization of disabled people.

Soon I will graduate from Daraja. I would like to go to Harvard University and study to became a neurosurgeon so that I can help kids who have had strokes.