The Persons With Disability (PWDs) in Kenya will never forget the efforts of David Ole Sankok that have culminated to their acceptance, recognition and inclusion in different spheres of life.
Ole Sankok, in his three-year tenure as the chair of National Council of Persons with Disability (NCPWD) initiated unprecedented policies that have made PWDs proud of their situation.
Kenya is ranked the first in Africa and fifth in the world in recognition of PWDs rights including exemption from paying taxes in salaries, businesses as well as tax free import duty.
What they need to do is to register with the National Council for People with Disability (NCPWD) where all tax-relief applications will have to be reviewed before they are forwarded to the KRA’s domestic tax department.
Prior to Sankok’s ingress to NCPWDs leadership, PWDs used to hide in fear of stigma but after the government enforced the friendly policies, they are now proud to identify with their condition.
His great task at the council was to help the PWDs, end discrimination, ensure their inclusion and help them to use the ninety-nine percent of their strengths to face life instead of seeking for sympathy.
Sankok’s narrates that when his right leg was completely paralyzed at the age of 12 when he received wrong pneumonia injection, his life became unbearable.
He however, says, not even disability could stop him his ambition of transforming his family, community and later his country.
The successful businessman while citing a sad incident when he crawled for 48 hours in shrubbery to locate his home after his crutches broke while tending his father’s cows in miles away says disability and poverty inspired him to fight for a better life for his family and to liberate the disabled from troubles they undergo.
“There is nothing terrible in life than living with both disability and poverty. Knowing that my future would be troubling if I would not invest, I made up my minds to study and invest” he says
Sankok, was once a hawker of clothes in Kitengela and while studying at University of Nairobi used to wake up very early to buy fresh produce in Kiambu to sell in Marikiti market to fiancé his studies and for upkeep.
The medical doctor, says, he resolved at a younger age not to solicit sympathy but to fight for his economic freedom so as to help many needy people across the country.
Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) that reserves government tenders to PWDs among other special groups, was enacted through his efforts.
At the NCPWDs leadership, he organized training of thousands of service providers among them doctors, teachers and police officers at the Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE) on how to handle confidential information of persons with disability.
The fearless leader also ensured that sign language become the third official language and introduced on national televisions so as to enable deaf to understand what is happening.
He also pushed for creation of the East Africa Community Council of Persons with Disability to advocate for disability rights for the people in the member states.
“To curb the budge of PWDs who are flooding Kenya from East African Counties for refuge because of the good policies we have in place, there is need to also help them accommodate their own people,”he said
In the past, a National Television expose revealed that many of the disabled persons begging on the streets of Nairobi hail from Tanzania and Uganda.
To ensure that the society accepts and accommodates persons living with disability at tender age and end stigma, I ensured creation of integrated schools instead of segmenting disabled children in special schools.
Through his efforts, architects and engineers have been trained to take into consideration needs of persons living with disability while drawing and building different structures.
“ To help the PWDs handle their own concerns, I have championed for recognition and inclusion of representatives of people with different needs in employment opportunities and also in key decision making processes like policy making so that the welfare of the PWDs are always taken in” he said
After ensuring that everything is in place for persons with various disabilities, Sankok retired honourably at the age of 38 to pave way for new leadership and his outstanding records convinced President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Samoei Ruto to nominate to National Assembly to represent the persons with various special needs.