NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 18 – Zachary Kimotho commonly known as Zack left Nairobi on 9th June this year, headed for South Africa on a wheel chair to raise funds to construct a rehabilitation centre for paraplegics here in Kenya.
This was after the realisation that South Africa was the nearest country to Kenya that had such a centre. This caused many Kenyans who suffered spinal cord injuries to lack access to the much needed treatment and care.
And through this campaign dubbed Bring Zack Back Home, Zachary has managed to raise Sh73 million from individual Kenyans in 60 days.
“I am very grateful to Kenyans; it is these contributions which actually gave me more and more encouragement to go on,” he says.
The campaign aimed to raise Sh250 million for the construction of a rehabilitation centre on a 12 acre piece of land in Kiserian.
“Looking at it, what we have so far achieved is considerable and that is an amount that I feel that we can start the first phase and then from there we go to another phase,” Zack says.
“And therefore I feel comfortable that I can come back home for now, get started with the construction and then from there start another phase of fundraising,” he explained.
The ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the centre is expected to begin in September.
During his two months journey, Zack would cover an average of ten kilometres per day wheeling on his manual wheelchair.
But this would depend on the activities lined up for the day.
Zack who is the only parent to his young son says it was not an easy undertaking.
“The main challenges have been the elements of the weather and July has been very cold and windy so at times you wake up and the weather is too hostile and then there are days you can wake up and it becomes very hot,” he says.
Apart from that using a manual wheel chair, he says, was not an easy task and he would sometimes get fatigued.
Dealing with careless drivers, he adds was also a challenge.
“Some of them would be told to slow down but some are quite big headed, they will just come cutting across and before you know it, they are just in front of you and that is a bit threatening,” he narrates.
“The exhaust fumes can also be nauseating especially when you are going uphill,” he adds.
During the campaign period, there were at least 516,000 Safaricom subscribers who subscribed to the one shilling per day contribution.
By the time of his return, Zack was nearing the border point of Namanga.
“Provision of health services is supposed to be given by the government but where the government is not doing it, we as citizens can take the responsibility and that’s what we are doing. We cannot sit back and wait …. This is a statement that the government must listen to very carefully because when individuals take up matters in their own hands it shows the government is failing,” says Timothy Wanyonyi of the Kenya Paraplegic Organisation.
It is estimated that between 50,000 and 75,000 persons are living with spinal injuries with over 15,000 new cases being recorded annually.
But Zack sums it up by saying: “It has been a journey of hope and a journey of challenges but I must say it has been a very worthy journey.”