Grass to Grace: 47-year-old cobbler nominated as MCA in Siaya
47-year-old Fredrick Odhiambo, who worked as a cobbler, has earned a nomination slot at the County Assembly of Siaya.
The father of two landed his new job after he was endorsed by Siaya Governor James Orengo to be part of the Members of County Assembly (MCAs) so as to advocate for persons with disability.
Odhiambo, who turned up for official orientation at Siaya County Assembly, thanked Orengo for elevating his stature despite being a class seven dropout.
“The nomination has come as a surprise to me. I was a politician who worked closely with Senior Counsel Orengo to the extent of luring fellow disabled persons to vote in his favour but had not dreamt of holding such high office,” Odhiambo said.
Odhiambo, who is also the chairman of Siaya County Disability Network, took advantage of social gatherings like funerals, weddings, talent shows and churches to advocate for the interests of his members and sell Orengo’s gubernatorial bid.
He noted that his condition reduced him to a laughing stock.
“Jobs were not coming my way and I had to survive for my wife and two kids, every morning he would gather shoe shining brushes, different shoe polishes, a cobbler’s needle and get down to business at Ugunja centre."
Odhiambo said he embraced and loved the cobbler job which earned him Ksh50-Ksh200 daily.
“I come from a humble background and my parents died while I was in class Seven in Sirisia and could not complete school. In order to survive, I decided to sell second-hand clothes (mtumba) for years before I was picked by a cobbler who trained me,” Odhiambo said.
“It’s the skills gained from my seniors that enabled me to survive till today. I started shore repair in Kibuye in Kisumu County, later moved to Ugunja centre and was now doing it at Bondo Kolalo,” he added.
He noted that his new job has caught his friends and families with lots of surprises.
“I thank God for his grace is sufficient, even those who are despised have come to realize that God does unthinkable things. When someone living with a disability is elevated to such political seats of interest, people often discredit them without a second thought. This notion should change and people should be offered equal opportunities," he said.
He vowed to champion the rights of people living with disabilities at Siaya Assembly as that forms part of his endorsement.
"Nobody applies to be born with a disability. All that we all need, whether living with a disability or not, is an opportunity and that is what I strive to create for the people who have endorsed me."