Elisha Barusei, a Boda-boda rider within Kericho town, is true testimony of the old adage that says ‘disability is not inability.’
The 36 year old father of three, exudes confidence, energy and passion, as he narrates how his dream of acquiring his own motorbike came to pass this year, just after working as Kazi Mtaani casual worker.
Meet Mr. Barusei, a jovial middle aged man with an eye-catching walking style, that immediately signifies a physical disability, yet it doesn’t seem to bother him, as he bounces towards the KNA offices, for his scheduled interview, Friday morning.
He starts by appreciating the Kenyan Government’s Kazi Mtaani initiative, which he says was his breakthrough from rags to riches, as he now owns a commercial motorbike that enables him to comfortably fend for his family of three children, two of whom are in primary school.
“Before I joined the Kazi Mtaani cohort early last year (2020), I was employed as a Boda-boda rider and I operated on shoe-string wages, which made it difficult for me to even pay school fees for my children. Today, I am in a position to pay the fees and basically take good care of my family without much struggle,” said Barusei.
He reveals that after completing his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams, he scored good grades, unfortunately, he was not able to proceed for secondary education due to his parents’ financial difficulties and that is when he decided to go out to the streets to look for a casual job.
The rider managed to work at a restaurant for several years before trying his hand on the Boda-boda sector.
Barusei who hails from Baraka area in Ainamoi, Kericho County, also intimates that he was born with a physical disability on his right leg and had to grapple with myriads of challenges while growing up, including being mocked by his school mates due to his limping posture, however, he says, over the years, he has developed a ‘thick skin’.
“I never consider myself disabled and despite having a few challenges, especially lifting heavy loads, I can do a lot of things just like an ordinary person. In fact, I can do a better job. My customers have complimented me several times, that I ride the motorbike carefully without endangering their lives,” Barusei stressed.
His Boda-boda hustle earns him approximately Sh. 500 a day, which he says is able to utilize as well as put aside some for his savings. He is currently registered at a local Sacco. He also says he is a member of the Kericho Boda-boda Association that offers members various support which he is proud to be part of.
“I encourage persons living with a disability like myself, to come out of their closets and use their God-given talents and abilities, to make an impact on the society around them. They should not hide in villages and remain in a state of perpetual dependency,” Barusei says.
Barusei who is officially registered as a Person with Disability (PLWD), also called on the government to reinstate the Kazi Mtaani initiative, so as to transform the lives of many youth in Kericho County who are still jobless.
Meanwhile, he plans to mobilize other disabled persons in his commercial venture of Boda-boda sector in order to get registered as a group, so as to start a livestock farming project, which he hopes will be funded by grants offered to groups of persons with disabilities.
The Kericho County Disability Services Officer, Ms. Helen Tuei, urged Persons Living with a disability in the County to come out and be officially registered, noting that there are several benefits to members.
“Some of the benefits that Persons with Disabilities enjoy include; tax exemption for those that are employed and those in businesses are also exempted from some of the taxes. Educational assistance is offered to the disabled who are registered and are able to also access bursaries and scholarships,” said Tuei.
Tuei pointed out that persons with disabilities who are registered benefit from assistive devices, which are the tools that assist them in mobility such as wheelchairs, crutches and hearing aids for the deaf.
Other assistive devices include tools of trade which are offered to students who have graduated from technical schools and needed tools to begin business, this include; tailoring machines and carpentry tool kit.
Last year, the National Council for Persons Living with Disability started the Wezesha program to support children with parents with disability.
Tuei, revealed that last year two parents benefited from the programme and additional two others this year.
Shee also called on persons living with disabilities to form entrepreneurship groups in order to benefit from the grants from the National Government.
“We fund disability groups with Sh. 100,000 every Financial Year and I am happy to report that persons living with disabilities in Kericho are rising and shining. We have managed to fund five groups this year, which are seriously doing great projects and contributing to the economy of the nation and as a result, their families are well looked after,” said Tuei.
Tuei added that projects such as bee-keeping, poultry farming, seedlings production and goat keeping are among the farming projects undertaken by most groups of persons living with disabilities.