An inspiring story of Miriam Wawira who managed to excel despite being born without hands

Sometimes in life, we are dealt cards that many would deem to be unfair. However, it is what you do with those cards that will make a difference in your life. This is the story of Miriam Wawira a customer care agent at Safaricom who is differently abled.

Mirriam was born 35 years ago in Embu County without hands a condition termed as Phocomelia. Being that she came from a humble background, other children in her village did not want to play with her and she was generally considered an outcast.

Despite all this, her mother encouraged her not to give up and enrolled her at the Jomo Kenyatta Children’s Home, which is a home for disabled children in a bid to give her a conducive environment. She later moved to Embu Urban Primary School where she finished her primary education.

During this time, her Mum was determined to bring her up as a normal child as well as make her independent. As such, she used to push her to wash her clothes and other household chores which she did using her feet.

Miriam joined Joy Town for her Secondary education in 2002 something which she says changed her life completely. This is because, at the school which caters for people who are abled differently, she finally had the freedom to be herself. This is because the students and teachers saw her for the person she was rather than her disability. She shared that the school also taught her how to be self-reliant and responsible something which helped her prepare for the future.

After finishing high school, she got a sponsor who enabled her to pursue a computer course where she learned to type with her feet. A skill which would later serve her well in her current job. She did the course over a period of two months after which she came to Nairobi to look for a job.

Being that she is differently abled, she had a hard time getting a job as people could not understand that she could be able to work without hands. After looking for a job without avail, she settled on a domestic manager job in South B where she used to wash clothes using her feet.

With her savings from her job, she joined the Nairobi Industrial Rehabilitation Centre where she studied electronics. Later on, she enrolled for a one-year diploma course in sales and marketing at the Railway Training Institute in South B.

However, even after she graduated with a diploma in 2008, she still could not manage to get a job because people chose to focus on her disability. It was during this time that she met with her husband who offered to pay for a course in human resource management as sales was proving to be a hard nut to crack. Sadly, even after she got the diploma, jobs were still not forthcoming. This is because she still faced stigma from employers who feared that she would break the computers while typing with her feet.

The year 2013 came with good tiding for Miriam because it was the year that she gave birth to her son. It was also the year that she got a job at Safaricom as a customer care agent under their diversity and inclusion program.

At her workplace, Safaricom has really supported her to be able to work by providing a customized desk for her to use. She was also provided with a personal assistant who helps her with some of the work that she cannot be able to do by herself. Other than this, the telco also provides transport to all their employees who are abled differently.  Miriam shares that working at Safaricom has really built her self-confidence because they make her feel that she is just like any other employee.

On advice to other people who are differently abled, Miriam shared that they should not give up but continue to do their best because just like life story, things can and will change. Basically, they should look at their disability just as a mark which should not stop them from achieving their goals.

Mirriam added that, “It does not matter how people see you. What matters is your mindset and what God sees in you. Always think about what your other body organs can do for you if you are physically challenged.”