How ex-Governor Waititu changed life of man paralysed after vaccination

for Tv47 Digital March 10, 2023, 07:54 AM
John Kariuki, PWD security guard working for Kiambu County
John Kariuki, PWD security guard working for Kiambu County. PHOTOS/TV47 DIGITAL

In Summary

  • The 50-year-old has been working under the Kiambu County Government as a security officer for more than five years.

    • At first glance, it is impossible to notice his brightly shining boots and when you get closer, he salutes you before offering his hand for greetings. He says the salute is what makes him stand out among his colleagues.

    For a person with disability, you would think the job of a security officer would have been out of reach, but not for John Kihara Kariuki.

    The 50-year-old has been working under the Kiambu County Government as a security officer for more than five years.

    At first glance, it is impossible to notice his brightly shining boots and when you get closer, he salutes you before offering his hand for greetings. He says the salute is what makes him stand out among his colleagues.

    For him, disability was never a hinderance to his dream of becoming a civil servant.

    The vaccine blunder

    Kariuki was born in 1973 in Kitale, Trans Nzoia County. With his four siblings, he was raised in one of the settlement schemes in the area.

    "Nilizaliwa sasawa kama watoto wengine ingawa nilizaliwa nyumbani. Madaktari vile walikua wanaenda kutoa sindano za Polio vijijini. Katika hiyo hali, wakanidunga kwa mfupa badala ya nyama. Shida yangu ikaanza hapo," the security guard narrates.

    Consequently, his right leg became partially numb and he had to support himself with his hands while walking, leading to deformation of his spinal cord.

    It however did not deter him from living a near normal life. Kariuki attended primary school where he walked for many kilometres due to lack of modern transport.

    Most times he was late for school. When lucky, he would arrive at school just after the morning assembly was dismissed. Other times however, he would get there well into the day.

    Much needed medical care

    His family moved to another settlement scheme in Molo, Nakuru County where he started receiving the much needed medical attention.

    "I was taken in by Catholic seminarians in 1984. It was a small home in Subukia where we had househelps who washed and cleaned for us. I underwent an operation on my leg in Eldama Ravine and my leg was plastered for six months. I underwent weekly medical checkups where the plaster had to be changed every other time," he adds.

    The 1997/98 post-election violence impacted Kariuki's life. When violence broke out in the Rift Valley, the elderly and sickly had to be moved urgently while the younger lads stayed on to fight.

    His father brought him to one of his aunts who lived in Banana, Kiambu County. Seeing as he had already received his national identity card, Kariuki opted to do menial jobs and start a life of his own.

    From sweeping restaurants

    From sweeping restaurants, doing minor repairs at a tailoring shop, to becoming a shoe shiner, he was able to afford rent and ended up marrying his wife in 2000.

    The father of three managed to save up some capital to start a small electronics business by the roadside in Karuri trading centre.

    After the inception of devolution, Kariuki's dreams of becoming a civil servant were rekindled with the onset of county governments.

    "I used to tell myself I must get into government by whichever means. I had a lot of faith," he says.

    30 minutes with governor

    During his campaigns against alcoholism in the county in 2017, former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu organized an event at Karuri Catholic church.

    It was only by a stroke of luck, that Kariuki managed to maneuver through the crowd, past his security and got a whooping 30 minutes of alone time with the county boss.

    "Nilimpata nikamwambia Governor mimi naitwa John ama baba Karis. Kazi yangu iko pale ya electronics. Niko na familia na sitaki usaidizi ya pesa nataka kazi. Hata sikua najua nataka kazi gani lakini bora niingize tu mguu kwa county."

    Two days later, he visited the County Headquarters in Kiambu Town on then-Governor Waititu's invitation. However, it wasn't until the following day when he finally met him and was surprised when the governor listed him among the newly employed security officers.

    Within the week, he received a call where he was instructed to report at the county's fire station department in Kiambu.

    "Out of the 12 sub counties in Kiambu nilijipata ni mimi tu nilikua na ulemavu."

    He was first posted to man the gates at the fire station department, but was moved to the County Headquarters a few weeks later. After Waititu's ouster in 2020, incoming Governor James Nyoro retained him but made changes to his post.

    Kariuki was moved to guard county offices for the Ministry of Lands and Urban Planning within Kiambu Town.

    After the 2022 General Election, new Governor Kimani Wamatangi ordered for reshuffling of Kiambu security officers which affected Kariuki.

    "Nilipelekwa Kiambaa lakini hata sikukaa kwa sababu wakubwa waliona kazi hapa Kiambu haiendi sawa nikarudishwa hapa."

    Hard work, determination

    For him, hard work and determination are the key pillars in life.

    "Mimi napenda kazi yangu sana vile napenda mtoto wangu. Hii kazi ndio imenisaidia kusomesha watoto wangu. Sai vijana wangu wawili walimaliza high school na msichana nataka nimpeleke afanye course."

    He admits that some of his colleagues look down upon him due to disability, but he has always strived to prove them wrong.

    "Natakanga kuwa prove wrong that I can do better that them," he adds.

    He says he is up to the task for whatever other position maybe available within the government.

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