The 11th edition of the Henry Wanyoike ‘Hope For The Future Run’ was this year held at the Alliance High School in Kikuyu, Kiambu County on Saturday 3rd June 2017, under the theme: “Your health, your wealth’.
About 15,000 runners participated in the competition, which was sponsored by Safaricom to a tune of KSh.1.5 million and had two categories: 3 km children’s and veterans’ run, and 8.5 km race for seniors and people living with disabilities. Since its inception, the event has been used as a platform to promote the rights of disabled people, community integration and also as a platform for nurturing upcoming talent.
According to Gideon Gachara, the race coordinator, every year, a theme is picked that aims to address a social issue in the society and also uses the race to communicate their agenda.
Race Founder Henry Wanyoike said that he was pleased to be celebrating the transformation they are driving in Kikuyu. So far, the Henry Wanyoike Foundation has been able to provide 400 walking sticks for the visually impaired and 100 wheelchairs. They have also built a nursery school in Kanjeru in Kabete Constituency, where they also run a feeding programme for children from poor backgrounds. He said that the funds raised this year will also go towards providing financial support for the education of orphans and vulnerable children.
So far, the achievements of the race over the last decade have been proof enough that when communities come together, great things happen, and one Rachael Nyangasi’s story is a testament to the power of community.
Rachel Nyangasi is a lady who comes from Vihiga. She has always been a hard-working woman, breaking her back to support her family. Her life however took a twisted turn of fate when she fell during her work shift and got injured in the year 2007 on the 27th of March. She happened to injure her hip, making walking and other duties practically impossible for her.
She was able to get a wheelchair from the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya in August that same year, after the hospital she was being treated in asked her to give the crutches from the hospital back. This, added with the fact that she wasn’t paid for 9 years and most of her family left her at her point of need would have broken her, if not for the help of the APDK.
As I talked to Rachel, the joy she had was showing on her face in her smile and in her voice about the wonderful things the Henry Wanyoike Foundation had done for her could not be hidden. She explained how she had gotten friends from this race who have supported her, walked with her in this journey and even called her to remind her of the race and urged her to participate when she didn’t want to. This year, she emerged number three in the physically challenged female race!
What baffled me the most was her dedication to this cause. Considering the fact that she has no main source of income, she had to borrow fare from a complete stranger, hop into a bus all the way from Vihiga in order to attend the race on Saturday morning. She said that it wasn’t easy for her to borrow that money, but the thought of missing out on the race, the chance of seeing her friends again and her missing out on a chance to feel like a normal human being couldn’t stand in her way.
She went on to explain how the physically disabled are a very marginalized group of people, especially in the rural areas. In her homeland, it’s very hard to get ramps or special facilities for the disabled, and with the fact that she does this almost all on her own, makes it even harder. The Henry Wanyoike Foundation however has come in in a very big way to make them feel loved, valued and appreciated in the society.
The achievements of the ‘Hope for the Future Run’ are too many to enumerate here, but the joy on Rachel Nyangasi’s face only goes to show how much thousands of people have gained over the 10 years of its existence. This is just but a demonstration of strength and a testament to what the power of community can do.