Written by Wanyonyi Wa Wasike
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Peter Wanyama Wenani, a disabled person from Bumula Constituency talks to the administrator of the County Caucus Facebook Group, Diana Lukoosi after himself and his other colleagues benefitted from a donation of wheel-chairs and crutches from members of the social network group. Photo | Robert Wanyonyi
THE power of social networks was replicated in remote villages of Bumula Constituency when disabled persons were given free wheel-chairs and crutches courtesy of an initiative by a group of professionals from Bungoma County.
A noble initiative by a group on Facebook social network calling itself the County Caucus aimed at reaching out to disabled persons, hitherto neglected by the government and the community saw its efforts come to reality by putting a smile on the faces of eight disabled persons from Bumula, a region that statistically has the largest number of persons with disabilities in Western Province.
“Statistics that we have show that Bumula has approximately sixty disabled persons in each location and this are the figures that guided us to begin here before moving out to the rest of the country with this initiative,” said Diana Lukoosi, the administrator of the group whose membership has now hit an unexpected 5342 mark.
She said that the County Caucus begun the initiative of raising funds through Facebook early this year and out of the money collected, members have so far been able to purchase four wheel-chairs and eight crutches totaling to Ksh. 133,000.
“We know there are still a large number of persons with disabilities that we are yet to reach out there, not only here in Bungoma County but the rest of the country. With support, we intend to carry on with this initiative and reach them,” announced Lukoosi.
She said the group encourages its members to contribute as little as Ksh. 20 through its M-pesa number, a move she hoped, if sustained by Kenyans of goodwill, is going to change the lives of many in the society.
Lukoosi said that through the social networking forum, the County Caucus has established another group, the ATC African County Caucus that aims to enlighten people in African countries on the use of social forums like Facebook, Twitter, My Space and others to reach out to the less fortunate people on the continent.
“We intend to use these big forums not only to discuss our social lives but think of something outside the box that can impact something positive on our communities,” added Joel Amusavi, another administrator of the group.
Beneficiaries, some of who arrived at the venue of the function crawling on all fours, were full of praise for the initiative that has changed their lives.
“There are still many of our colleagues out there who still need support but they can’t even manage to leave their homesteads. I am urging the government and other well-wishers to reach out to such people because they are many,” said Peter Wanyama Wenani, a beneficiary of crutches from Siboti area.
Wenani added that he only used to hear about Facebook but he now has a story to tell to the rest of the villagers about the impact of social networks and also encourage them to use such forums for a common cause.
Lukoosi said that apart from its latest initiative, the County Caucus also raised funds and donated a laptop and other educational materials to John Nalianya, the top student during last year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations immediately the results were announced.
“We tried out a pilot project and the overwhelming response and support that we received encouraged us to continue donating what we have as a means of returning something back to the community,” she said.
As the African continent continues to grapple with many challenges ranging from poverty, illiteracy, hunger and disease, networking through social platforms might prove to be the way forward in trying to address such problems.
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