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Covid-19 throws another curve ball at people living with disability

By Mathew Ndungu
Friday, August 14th, 2020
Florence Wanjiru, 30, at her stall in Ruiru market, Kiambu county. Photo/PD/Mathew Ndung’u
In summary

For five years now, 30-year-old Florence Wanjiru has been knocking on offices looking for a job to no avail.

Wanjiru who lives with dwarfism says that despite having tailoring skills, every potential employer has been sending her away owing to her genetic condition.

After tarmacking for years, Wanjiru , a mother of one, who lives in a single-roomed house at Githurai, Kiambu County resorted to hiring a stall to vend tomatoes at Ruiru market to make ends meet.

After the outbreak of Covid-19 in March, Wanjiru said that life took a new turn, leaving her in a worse situation.

In the last five months Wanjiru has been grappling with how to pay rent for her house and stall rent due to the fact that her business has been struggling to stay afloat.

Uncertain of what the future holds, Wanjiru is now looking for a job to support her family, an opportunity she regrets could be hard to come by unless employers, particularly in the private sector, stop stigmatising physically challenged persons.

“I can work in any company in need of sewing services. At the moment, I am not sure about securing any job due to my condition  as most employers think we are not skilled enough,” she said.

Not a dissimilar siatuation of despair has confounded 26-year-old Ann Wanjiru from Juja who despite having bakery and tailoring skills has never acquired a job owing to the fact that she is is not highly educated.

She says that her passion to work in a hotel drove her to study for the job.

“I love cooking and that is what took me to Mary Magdaline Vocational School in Thika.

Looking for a job has, however, been hard for me as many employers do not consider my output. They only look at my  physical appearance,” she said.

After failing to secure a hotel job, in spite of applying and going for interviews, Wanjiru has now been compelled to assist her mother in her embroidery job at a stall near their home.

Catherine Wambui,  Wanjiru’s mother said she developed measles complications at the age of four months, a condition that deteriorated to an intellectual disability.

She said the jovial girl was consequently forced to go through special schools right from kindergarten until she acquired her current skills.

“She now works under no supervision and she does quality work because she is very focused. If given a job, I believe she can work perfectly,” she said.

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