Our Publications

Disability and Social Justice in Kenya

“Changing Cultural Perception on Disability through Empowerment of Families and Local Leaders” Chapter by Cynthia Bauer, Leonard Mbonani, and Jessica Charles

The first interdisciplinary and multivocal study of its kind to review achievements and challenges related to the situation of persons with disabilities in Kenya today

Disability in Africa has received significant attention as a dimension of global development and humanitarian initiatives. Little international attention is given, however, to the ways in which disability is discussed and addressed in specific countries in Africa. Little is known also about the ways in which persons with disabilities have advocated for themselves over the past one hundred years and how their needs were or were not met in locations across the continent. Kenya has been on the forefront of disability activism and disability rights since the middle of the twentieth century. The country was among the first African states to create a legal framework addressing the rights of persons with disabilities, namely the Persons with Disabilities Act of 2003. Kenya, however, has a much longer history of institutions and organizations that are dedicated to addressing the specific needs of persons with disabilities, and substantial developments have occurred since the introduction of the legal framework in 2003.

Disability and Social Justice in Kenya: Scholars, Policymakers, and Activists in Conversation is the first interdisciplinary and multivocal study of its kind to review achievements and challenges related to the situation of persons with disabilities in Kenya today, in light of the country’s longer history of disability and the wide range of local practices and institutions. It brings together scholars, activists, and policymakers who comment on topics including education, the role of activism, the legal framework, culture, the impact of the media, and the importance of families and the community.

Kupenda’s Chapter

Advocacy workshops tailored to influential community groups result in sustainable and beneficial changes for children and youth impacted by disability in Kilifi County, Kenya. From June 2015 through April 2017, the nonprofit organization Kupenda for the Children conducted 23 workshops with a total of 603 participants. These included tailored workshops for pastors, traditional healers, government leaders, and families impacted by disability. Based on surveys, 73% of participants believed in spiritual causes of disabilities prior to the workshops. After participating in the workshops, 60% of those who originally held superstitious beliefs claimed to believe in the biological causes of disabilities that had been presented to them. In addition to these changing belief systems, 73% of workshop participants provided evidence of action on behalf of families impacted by disability in their communities. Our work with these community groups provides evidence that change in belief systems and awareness about disability issues within the local population leads to support and inclusion of families impacted by disability.  

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The Kupenda Novel

By, Lauren Boswell Blair

Anyone who grieves the “flaws” in their life needs to read “An Unlikely Gift”. Lauren Boswell Blair tells the story of Kupenda for the Children, a non-profit that serves children with disabilities in Kenya who are considered to be cursed by God, frequently being subjected to practices of child elimination and mistreatment. As the story of the founders of this mission and the children it assists unfolds, it becomes evident that not only our gifts and abilities serve us in life, but also our weaknesses and disabilities. In fact, the combination of these attributes becomes most evident when demonstrated in community with others. The stories that follow highlight just how both aspects of our being, our strengths and our vulnerabilities, are a vital part of fulfilling God’s call for our lives and experiencing the dignity that belongs to all of his creation.

[PURCHASE BOOK HERE]