Naivasha Resource Centre Offers Hope To PWDs’ Creative Works

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Josephine Mahinda [Standing] engages a section of persons with disabilities at the Naivasha Disability center who are beneficiary of skills enhancement for self-employment/photo courtesy

BY KNA’s Erastus Gichohi

 A Naivasha-based Disability Resource Centre (DRIC) has created hope for tens of persons with various forms of disabilities for over a decade now.

The center located within the vicinity of Naivasha General Hospital, seeks to address the barriers faced by these often looked down upon persons in the society.

But beyond the rather physical and psychosocial care, the center attends to a group with different disabilities interested in the creative industry by imparting skills that will enable them to establish self-employment opportunities.

Through their handmade crafting of pieces ranging from bracelets, mats, African baskets, and backpacks among others, the beneficiaries have been enabled to eke a living from their trade.

Josephine Mahinda, the head of the facility, said the center has supported over 300 members in both Naivasha and Narok counties through skills enhancement training and marketing their goods through organized exhibitions.

Mahinda said the group has trounced disability perception by employing their creativity, talents, and abilities to make goods to earn a living.

Mahinda who speaks passionately about the initiative terms the lack of adequate funding and limited market access being the biggest challenge to the program’s future.

“We seek to deploy the use of social media platforms to leverage their wider customer reach to boost their sales,” she said.

Mahinda noted that the center deploys a reducing, recycling, and reuse concept where only recycled and environmentally friendly materials are used in their craftwork.

Additionally, Mahinda said in collaboration with other partners, the center is building a modern facility in the Kongoni area in Naivasha that will be used for training and skills development targeting persons with disabilities.

She said the center will be a game changer as it will cater to the growing list of persons especially children with disabilities who often go unattended.

According to 2019 State of Kenya Population Report data, 918,270 persons were recognized with some form of disability in the country, with similar reports showing growing barriers to access opportunities both in the public and private sectors.

It is from these existing barriers that Mahinda hopes to address by establishing and supporting self-employment initiatives that will reduce the gap and stigma for persons with disabilities.

One such beneficiary is Francis Kariuki, who specializes in beads work and making flower vases, his daily trade that has seen him support his family.

Kariuki, who has a physical disability, speaks with admiration about his work, and his skills to carefully curate his pieces, earning him a name and recognition over the years.

Kariuki remembers vividly the day the then deputy president William Ruto, now the president, accepted his handmade stringed flower which he says turned around his fortunes.

 But since the Covid pandemic struck the town, his sales plummeted to new lows as a result of financial constraints on his customers throwing his ambitious plans into a spin.

Kariuki is however optimistic that the organization plans to help in marketing their art will enable him to expand and employ others in the business.

On her part, Jihan Wanjiku who trades in beadwork, belts, and mart making said that at the apex of her business, she was able to build herself a house and school her children with ease.

Wanjiku, who is now divorced with three children and suffers from a spine injury, said her call to provide for her family extends the barriers her disability poses.

According to Tabitha Wangui, a widow, the project brought hope to her young family after the sudden death of her husband seven years ago.

Wangui who makes African baskets better known as ‘ciondos’, said DRIC supported her gain training in weaving which she has immensely gained from.

She however decried tough post covid-19 times but is positive of the organization’s plans to help market their wares through exhibitions and the use of social media.

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