I was rejected because of disability, says Kellen

A walking disorder made her be left behind when family went to church

In Summary

• She was seen as a curse in the family and abandoned when they fled war in Tanzania


Joyce Wanjiku alias Kellen of Tahidi High say she was considered an outcast in the society and by her parents for living with a disability.

Born in Tanzania, Kellen says she fell ill at six years after she was given a wrong injection and after that one of her legs got complications.

Her father is Tanzanian and her mother Kenyan. Her parents were not learned to take her to a good hospital, although they could also not afford.


In a recent interview on YouTube, Kellen says as time went by, one of her legs became shorter and could not grow and she was given a walking stick by her dad.

"They started fighting and quarrelling because of my sickness, claiming it was a curse from either family," she said.

She says as a person with a disability then, she was seen as a curse in the family. Both parents were drunkards as her mum sold liquor. "My father would beat my mum so much, saying, "Esther chukua kilema chako upeleke nyumbani Kenya," she recounted.

Kellen says her parents separated during the Kagera war between Uganda and Tanzania. Her mum was forced to come to Kenya but there were no vehicles, so they were forced to walk.

At the age of seven, Kellen was left behind because of her disability.

"My mother told me they could not proceed with the journey with me as I could not walk with my sick leg," she said.

A tearful Kellen says she went through so much even before the war as she was left alone at home to do house chores, while the rest went to church as people would see me as a curse.


"I was mistreated and would sleep on the floor," she said.

After her mum fled from war, Kellen says an army lorry rescued her and she was taken to the Kenyan border and subsequently to the DO's office.

For around two months, Kellen languished in a police station and nobody came for her.

"I was taken to the court every day and nobody came to look for me," she said.

"I once saw my uncle in the court, but he did not pick me, I did not say I know him as well as he did not want to associate with me. I did not want him to take me and take me to a place they would mistreat me."

She was picked by the government and taken to Kabete children's home, where she stayed for six months and was later transferred to Dagoreti children's home.

"The place was better than my home because I was taken to school and there was no rejection. I enjoyed it, though it was not the best," she said.

"Some things we don't talk about them because they traumatised us."

In class six, someone came from Loitoktok and said they were looking for her.

"The management said I would go home so my place would be replaced by another needy child. I was taken home. Ooh my God, I found the situation was worse, my home was the centre of all illicit brew."