"Whether you walk or not, you are still a human being."

Before Richard’s accident, he worked at an engineering firm as a manager. His wife owned a small shop, and they lived with their two young children in Nairobi. But whilst fixing a crane at work, Richard lost his footing. He fell and broke his spine – and everything changed.

Richard was in hospital for nine months. When he was discharged, he finally had to accept he would not be able to return to work or provide for his children, and his confidence was crushed. He refused to eat because he did not want his wife to take him to the toilet, and he did not want to see his friends or family.

 You die before you die.

His wife lost her business shortly afterwards, and the family had to move from their comfortable home to a small wooden hut in a slum. When it rained, sewage ran through the house. Before long, Richard’s neighbours started calling him names and the family was robbed. The police recommended they moved into a different neighborhood.

From then on, Richard isolated himself in his home. He did not even go to church because people told him he was cursed or thought he was there to beg. His wife started to wash clothes and sell coal to earn the family’s keep. And even though he was only ten years old, his son started selling rice.

“I did not realise how much it was affecting my wife and son,” Richard explained. “My wife’s health was damaged and my son never had the opportunity to be a child – after the accident, he had to be the man with all the responsibility.

My family still believes that I may walk again but they know that, whether you walk or not, you are still a human being. I am happy my family doesn’t see me as someone with a disability, but it has been a very long journey. My wife wouldn’t let me out initially because she was scared something would happen.”

I have become high on life. We are not embarrassed anymore.

Since Richard received help from Motivation, he is feeling more positive about the future.

“My best days are ahead of me,” he told us. “I feel empowered. I am changing from a caterpillar and flying like a butterfly! I am living my life now that I have processed my pain and depression.”

Motivation’s peer training taught Richard how to keep himself healthy and improved his mobility skills. Delivered by other wheelchair users, it helped him to feel less alone. With his new freedom and independence, he began to look to the future and asked his church to improve disabled facilities so he can attend more easily. He has also trained to be a psychologist and is thinking of owning his own practice.

My scars have turned into stars.

Richard is currently helping Motivation to deliver the same training he received. His wife is working for the government, and the family lives in a government-owned house.

“My family and I don’t see disability; we see opportunity. I am now looking outwards at possibilities, and I am fulfilled and more social. I am doing my dream now – helping people with spinal cord injuries. I hope to be able to empower people with disabilities to move on with their lives.”