No comments yet

Demystifying Disability: Kisumu County Senate Aspirant Shares His Journey

CPA Lennox Jalang’o mentoring job seekers with disabilities on requesting for Reasonable Accommodation in the workplace. PHOTO/FAUSTINE CHEPCHIRCHIR

“I am a living example that it’s possible. It’s never late to start afresh. Having a disability shouldn’t be an impediment to going after one’s dreams,” CPA Jalang’o

CPA Lennox Jalango was born a healthy young boy in remote part of Kisumu County in the larger Nyanza province. The firstborn son in a family of nine; he was raised by his parents, a pair of primary school teachers. The family lived a modest life.

Life in the village was both fun and calm with array of activities to indulge into. Together with his five friends, they formed a united front in all activities. These included; grazing cattle in the wild, playing hide and seek, football, and swimming in river Arom, a famous local river in the region. However, life took a different twist when he was four years.

On that fateful day, while driving the cattle home in the evening, as a norm, Jalang’o and his friends passed by River Arom to quench thirst and clean up the day’s sweat. This was also an opportune moment to unwind from the busy day as well as play in the river.

River Arom was located strategically between the village and the grazing field. Hills stood silently in the background allowing the streams of Katieno to flow graciously and creating a swimming hole where the young lads enjoyed themselves.

The still water engulfed with the sweet melodies of birds and croaking of frogs provided a small haven after a hectic day in the scorching sun. The hills covered with the evergreen trees enhanced its beauty. The only other noise that could be heard was the cheering and jeering by the young boys as they dived into the water.

Daredevil

One by one, they exercised their daredevil techniques. From their different spots, each one of them dived into the river resurfacing after two-three minutes gasping for air, while the rest of the crew cheered. It was Jalango’s turn and he lunged into the river with unexplored boyish prowess. Little did he know that would be the last time he’d take such a bold dive in his entire life.

The boys counted as they wait for Jalango to resurface. Three minutes elapsed, and then five, then six, and they sensed something was definitely amiss. Panicked engulfed the pacific air.  With the oldest being six years, they started running helter-skelter to seek for help. Luckily, a Good Samaritan arrived on time to save Jalango’s life.

Disability

Jalango’s life changed for good. As he was diving in the shallow waters, he landed on a stone and fractured both his legs.

This resulted in him being hospitalized and bedridden for two years after undergoing several surgeries. He was later discharged and put on home-based care for the next five years.

“There was a traditional healer by the name Onyatta who my parents engaged to take care of me at home. He treated me using herbs and assisted in physiotherapy.” He recounts. In the meantime, his parents’ being teachers struggled to bridge his education gap.

Nonetheless, the accident left a permanent scar in his life as it affected his growth in stature consequently acquiring physical disability.

By the time Jalangó regained considerable health, all his friends were miles ahead of him in academics. However, this did not deter him from pursuing his studies. His parents managed to secure his admission in class two in the local school they were teaching. At home, they provided Jalangó with tuition to assist him to catch up with classwork.

School Life

Overcoming his fears was one of the greatest challenges he experienced in school. This drifted his attention to academics where he excelled and was always among the top three learners in all his primary school life

“I shunned away from engaging in any physical activity for fear of being hurt.”  He reckons.

Jalang’o affirms the positive influence parents have on their kids. He says that parents can make or break their kids’ aspirations especially if they have special needs adding that through his dad, he realized the power of motivation.

“My dad talked to me on how to face my challenges head-on. Life is all about taking risks and the only one big strength you have is enough to make a very big difference,” he recounts his father’s sagacious words.

This motivated him and he ended up forming debating and drama clubs where he was an active member.

“I started engaging in activities that required intellect. I enjoyed putting on costumes to act and reciting mashairi (a Swahili word for poems) during my days,” he added.

CPA Lennox Jalang’o (centre) with job seekers with disabilities after a mentorship session organized by ANDY. PHOTO/ FAUSTINE CHEPCHIRCHIR

CPA Jalango noted that the mentorship that he received from his father has prompted him to offer mentorship to persons with disabilities. He currently works closely with Action Network for the Disabled, a Disabled Persons’ Organization as a role model to young jobseekers with disabilities.

Jalang’o passed his primary education and was called for a Provisional School though his parents insisted he joins Ramba Boys’ High School, a nearby school just in case something needed their immediate attention. From there, he got admission to join KCA University for his Public Accountants Examinations and immediately registered with ICPAK upon successful completion, earning the CPA title. Later on, he proceeded to  Maseno University to pursue his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with IT specializing in Finance

Leadership

Having a disability, navigating through the corporate world for the last 15 years has not been a walk in the park. He has faced discrimination because of his short stature but has emerged victorious.

Starting his career at Association for the Physically Disabled in 2006, he has worked for industry leaders’ including Teacher’s Sacco, Thyma Enterprises Limited, and Aga Khan Health Service. He now serves as the Quality Assurance Manager in an Audit firm.

CPA Jalang’o has also been able to hold Youth Representative and Kisumu County convener positions in the Nyanza Branch Institute of Certified Public Accountants In Kenya (ICPAK) Executive Committee as an elected member. He’s also an active participant at Bunge la Mwanachi  (People’s assembly) in Kisumu. Currently serves as a member of Devolution Services Committee.

“I am a living example that it’s possible. It’s never late to start afresh. Having a disability shouldn’t be an impediment to going after one’s dreams,” he echoes.

Senatorial Bid

CPA Jalang’o has audacious dreams and will be vying for Kisumu County Senatorial seat in the upcoming Kenya’s general election in 2022.

“Most leaders have detached themselves from Wanjiku and Atienos’, I envision bridging this gap by having an actionable county vision collectively owned by all Kisumu County leadership,” he affirms.

He emancipates to encounter a lot of barriers but the major one being financing of his campaign. He noted that he does not fear ridicule, discrimination as he has encountered quite a number in his life and emerged victoriously.

By Faustine Chepchirchir

Post a comment

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons