TALES OF COURAGE: How I coped with life as an amputee

Thursday August 23 2018

Beatrice Njama at her shop in Ol Kalou town. PHOTOS| WAIKWA MAINA

Beatrice Njama at her shop in Ol Kalou town. PHOTOS| WAIKWA MAINA  

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Beatrice Njama's life took a sudden turn for the worse when her hand was amputated following a grisly road accident in 2004.

The driver of the bus she was travelling in lost control and rolled several times along Maai Mahiu-Narok road in 2004.

She was on her way to Homabay from Nairobi and lost her entire trade stock of shoes in the accident.

Her right arm was too badly fractured to be saved and the doctors had to amputate it.

It was a double tragedy for her as she was newly married to Nahashon Kimani, who was then jobless while she was the sole breadwinner.

I could not believe it when the doctors revealed that I had to be amputated. I was a new bride and I thought my husband would leave me but he stood by my side and did not complain even when we had to move back to the village. He has been my rock.”

All her savings were drained by hospital bills at Tenwek hospital where she admitted for two months. The future seemed bleak for the mother of two as she battled with depression, self-pity and living in denial.

“I was hopeless, it was hard to accept my new status, I was a hardworking woman, feeding my family and doing everything that a woman does. It was most one of the most painful things in my life. “

She lost a number of childhood friends after the accident.


The woman who Beatrice was back then after the accident is a distant cry from the jovial woman she is today. Over the past eight years, she has managed to build a successful beading business whose first capital was  just Sh200.

It all started in 2009 when she travelled to Nakuru to visit her sister. After alighting from the matatu, she spotted a woman who was beading and selling some snacks by the roadside near the stage.

“I was drawn to the way she was beading and this aroused a deep curiosity in me . I  requested her to allow me  to sit next to her so that I could breastfeed my four-month-old baby. I believe she empathised with my state and this gave me an opportunity to watch and learn how she did the beading.”

Five hours later, she had acquired some basic yet crucial lessons on beading and decided that it would be her next business venture.

 Beatrice told her sisters about her decision, they supported her by giving her some money and sending her the beads she would need to start her off.

“One of them sent me a beaded purse and I used it to learn how to make my first beaded purse. I spent hours making it and starting over again until I eventually mastered it. I had spent Sh. 200 on materials but made two purses and sold each of them for Sh500. That is when I knew I could make money from this newly acquired skill.”

Come 2011, her business had grown so much that she requested for a kiosk from the now defunct Ol Kalou Town Council. She was allocated space at busy junction just few meters from the council offices, that was quite strategic for business.  She has operated from the same place to date.

 “I was the pioneer in beading business here in Ol Kalou town. My customers appreciated the fact I did not resort to begging because of my disability. Later on, an  NGO running a youth empowerment program contracted me to train their youth within Nyandarua and Laikipia region. The pay was good and a greats boost for my business.”

With savings from her business and salary, she joined Nyandarua Rural Industrial Sacco (Nyarisco which was a  rural  saving group.  Here she saved money and purchased a plot at Kiganjo market. Later on she managed to get a loan from the Sacco and put up a permanent house for her family.

She credits her good attitude, focus and determination for the strides she has made in her life as an amputee.