6 November 2018
Paul Mbatia works at our office in the Netherlands as a Business Development Specialist. He shares his story with us about his childhood and what motivates him every day.
“Born and brought up in the Laikipia plains of Kenya in the 1980s, I was never known by then as Paul in fact my actual name is Waihura. It means: ‘The people who owns cattle’. And for sure, as much as I can remember, I used to graze animals until the age of 14. I come from a polygamous family with sixteen brothers and sisters. So it was a full house with nephews and nieces. I schooled in a local primary school and attended a local high school. I am kind of a dreamer and I used to think of what I would like to be when I grow up. The idea of being an engineer or a business man was very interesting and I would spend hours and hours day dreaming how that life would look like. At the age of 17 I joined Egerton university where I undertook an undergraduate programme in Economics. It was during my university time that the life I live today shaped up. In 1997 I joined the active nonviolence youth movement in Kenya. This was a time when the country was going through very turbulent political transitions. During this time I came to know what being marginalized is all about. It is about being at the edge of society, having no active voice, identity, or place in it. Since then I decided to work with and for those people marginalized in the society.
I joined Light for the World in March 2012 as a fundraiser. I have grown through the organization to become the Business Development specialist. What I do every day is to think of where Light for the World can invest its resources to create the best possible impact to persons with disabilities. I support my colleagues to develop concepts and prepositions, I create connections with other organizations and fundraise for initiatives and project that Light for the World is implementing. You can think of my position as that of sales person-developing prepositions, and selling those preposition to potential funders is my job.
Why I work at Light for the World and what motivates me every day to wake up and go to work? Wel,l obviously the job. But apart from that, I remember this girl that I attended to during my first day as human right defender in Kenya in 2003. My first job was with St. Martin Catholic Social Apostolate, an catholic organization in Nakuru. And one cold morning a community reported to me about a case of 10 year old girl who had been impregnated by a police officer who happen also to be an uncle. I attended to that case, I came to know that this girls had Down syndrome. The uncle was taking care of her after her parents died. The girl was literary a sexual object not just to the uncle, but to everyone else in the village. We rescued the girl to the safe house, but subsequent events were tantalizing. The police not only almost shot my – then a lawyer – colleague dead, but he kidnapped and killed the girl and disappeared. Eventually the man was arrested and charged, but the life of that girl was lost. When I think of how many of those girls are out there, whose life literally depend on what I do today, no matter what, I want to go out of bed and do my job.
I believe every person with a disability has the right to be respected for his or her physical and mental integrity on an equal basis with others. My dream is to see Light for the World programmes being an example of what a better dignified life of person with disabilities can be. I am not interested on how much a project would be funded, but more how much a project can change a life of a person. I believe – as a point of improvement – we need to put persons with disabilities at the drivers of our work. People should be in the lead in improving their lives and communities. Our approach in programme development should focus on the skills, assets and energy that people can draw upon and the potential in their ideas. We feel that strong, vibrant communities can be built and renewed by the people living in them. Making them ready for anything in the face of future opportunities and challenges. I trust in people’s ability to make great things happen, believing that our funding should
enable rather than control.”