“I was saved by the Social worker…”
38 years ago a baby girl was born at Ilkirolit village in Kajiado West.She was born in a very humble home.A typical Maasai home,poor,pastoral,that values livestock more than women and girls.
A community that was,and still is,struggling a lot with retrogressive cultural practices like Female Genital Mutilation and child marriages.
For being a girl,It seemed that the trajectory of her life was already set:Grow up a bit,not go to school,get circumcised,then get married to a man,probably older than her father.
But that would change when at the age of 5,Polio would strike her.Leaving her unable to walk.Double tragedy,that son of a bitch called polio was,because she would have to be killed.
Maasai people put disabled kids at the entrance of the animal pen and they are stepped on by hundreds of cows as they come in from the fields until the child dies(This is documented,though through advocacy it is changing a bit.It is a taboo subject of discussion and very discreet)
Her mother was not for the idea but the voice of a Maasai woman is never respected though that is slightly changing.Disabled people from the Maasai community are perceived to be poor,vulnerable,a bad omen and burdensome.
Around the same time that she got disabled,a missionary social worker rescued her from her community.And that is how she got mobility devices but most important an education that was sponsored by the African Inland Church,Kajiado.
She pursued it with zeal until college where she trained as a teacher.Being among the most empowered in her community,she started an NGO that empowered women through adult classes and literacy training programs,empower youth,women and persons with a disability.
Slowly but surely,she started being accepted in her community as a leader and an opinion shaper.Her big break came in 2013 when she nominated to parliament by The National Alliance Party.
She was still in the village and because there was no mobile phone network,she got the message 4 days later.And that was big.For her and for her community.In parliament she has legislated on social issues like drugs,gender and even education.
Given the odds,she now has better shots in life and through her,the Maasai community has drastically changed attitudes and stigma associated with people with disability and they are enrolling them to schools.
But the challenge is that as a nominated parliamentarian,she does not have a budget like the elected colleagues meaning that it is hard to implement projects.
That is how she got the idea of vying for an elective seat in the upcoming elections in August.Which one?Women representative.Which party?Jubilee Party.The first task was to campaign in order to be the flag bear in the party primaries nominations.And she did.
Last month the party held it’s nominations and guess who won,Janet of course.And her chances of winning in the August elections are also quite high.
Janet believes that in life everything is possible with the right attitude and she will change the lives of the Maasai woman!
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Story by Hummingbird+