My name is Teddy Waweru. I am 29 years old. I was born with cerebral palsy, a disorder that affects muscle tone, my ability to move my limbs in a coordinated, purposeful way and my speech.
I grew up at the Mother Teresa Children’s Home in Huruma. I just found myself here as a young boy. It is a big, happy family and I know no other way of living than in the company of great family and friends at the home. Because of my age, I’m now housed at the Missionaries of Charity Home of Peace in Ngumba estate.
My day starts early. I wake up at 6am, take a shower and dress up. At 7am, I head to the dining hall for breakfast and do my chores thereafter. After my chores, I go back to my room in the dormitory and prepare myself to leave for work by 9am. I get onto my wheelchair and cycle up to the roadside, just near the matatu stage in Ngumba estate.
I FEEL ENCOURAGED WHEN PEOPLE SAY HELLO
My wheelchair has a back compartment that acts as a mobile stall. I can walk without it with the support of a walking stick but it is a much more efficient means of transport than my feet! I open it and arrange my wares. I sell sweets, chewing gum, biscuits, juice and airtime. My customers are the passers-by. Because I’m located next to the main stage, most of them are people living in the estate, as their faces have become familiar. This has seen me make friends with some of them who stop by with a smile to say hello, or just wave at me as they pass by. This encourages me that people recognise me and what I am doing.
Cerebral palsy has meant that my right side, both the leg and the hand, are affected as the hand is powerless and cannot be utilised, while the leg is very weak. I’ve learned to make the most use of my left hand and leg.
EDUCATION I studied at Joy Town Primary School in Thika and sat for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) in 2006. I then pursued a certificate course in knitting at the Variety Village Training Centre in Thika. This was between 2007 and 2008; and I learned how to sew sweaters using a knitting machine. But I have never practiced the craft, as I didn’t get the opportunity for employment, but it is something that I could have perfected in life.
STARTED A BUSINESS
However, I did not let this discourage me, and in 2015 I felt that I needed to start a business that would prepare me for financial stability and for the future. I started small, with just Sh2,000 that was given to me as a gift by the Sisters to start a snacks vending business since it would be easier to operate and I could sell from the comfort of my wheelchair.
I get encouraged by the fact that one day, I will gain full socio-economic independence, get out there, build a family and a successful business. But I understand that this takes personal discipline and commitment. That is partly why I’ve been saving for my future. I make about Sh400 in sales a day. Out of the profits that I make in a month, I save at least Sh2,000 with Angaza Africa Sacco in Thika for the future. I would want to be in a position to live in my own home and enjoy the fruits of my sweat in the future.
I know that with a physical disability, it will take time for me to establish a family and a home. But it is something that I always keep praying about. I don’t have a girlfriend at the moment, but I’ve female friends. It is very hard for a physically challenged man like me to win the heart of a woman. It is especially hard when women find out that I live in a children’s home. They leave quietly without giving any reasons. But I know that it is because of my socio-economic status. They tend to look more at the disability rather than what I can achieve in the near future.
The home takes care of all my needs, allowing me to concentrate on the business, which I intend to expand in due time. I do record-keeping and maintain some operating capital. At lunch time, I briefly head back to the home for lunch. On some days, when the stall is busy, I just call at Baba Jayden’s gate, next to my stall, and they serve me hot lunch. Baba Jayden is a good friend and has instructed his family to always serve me lunch. Today, they served me spaghetti and beef stew.
Whenever I am free on Sunday afternoons after church, I watch football. On some occasions, I take a walk to Garden City, to just see the world. I have seen the place transform. When I take such walks and see people shopping happily with their families, I tend to think a lot about my future. You know, one’s socio-economic stability determines the future. I am determined to make the best that I can achieve in life.
Many people ask how I would react if one day my parents showed up, but I don’t let it distract my mind. This children’s home is the place I call home, and the people here are my family and I may not be interested in even knowing how I ended up here. I’m not bitter, but for me to end up here, someone must have been irresponsible. But again, I’m in a better place and I can make the best out of it and have a brighter future. I’ll eternally be grateful to the Mother Teresa Sisters for giving me a home and a family.
Do you have feedback on this story? E-mail: [email protected]