God is great; How blind man is flourishing on mix farming despite being disabled
Despite living in the world of darkness for over 30 years, Gerald Wandaki, a resident of the Navakholo constituency in Kakamega County, has defied his visual disability to flourish in a mixed farming venture.
Wandaki’s farming activities have left many wondering how he juggles through and excels as a farmer despite his condition.
Born in 1985, Wandaki lived as a normal child for six years before contracting the sudden illness which made him blind.
As a family man, he had to look for alternative means to provide for his wife and two children, and farming cloaked his mind.
TUKO.co.ke crew visited Wandaki’s home to find out how he manages his daily chores as a farmer.
As we arrived, his wife Catherine Wandaki who was busy doing the laundry ushered us in. After exchanging greetings, we requested to talk to Wandaki.
“He has already left for the farm,” she said as she directed the crew to the farm.
The man from Simuli village is indeed an exception. Besides rearing cattle and keeping poultry he cultivates vegetables.
As we followed a small path that lead us to the farm, our eyes met the green-healthy managu and maize plantation, painting a picture of a hardworking man.
Wandaki has a sharp sense of hearing. As we edged closer to him, he miraculously noticed our presence.
“Good morning,” he stopped cutting grass and greeted us, Good morning too, we answered and allowed him to continue working.
We were puzzled by the way he cuts the grass using a panga and the way he moved a jembe weeding. He later bundled up the grass before wrapping it in a sack and carried it back home.
“There is no difference between you and me, I am capable of doing what you can with your eyes even much better,” Wandaki remarked jokingly as he dropped the grass next to his cowshed.
We were moved by his agility, going around with his tasks. Upon dropping the grass, he went straight to untie his cow tied about 200 meters like a visually able man.
“I am aware of every inch of my house, I don’t need directional help, I can plough, take care of cattle and walk myself to the shops among other activities without anyone’s assistance,” he said.
He tightened the cow and started cutting the nappier grass into smaller pieces. We sort to know how he manages without hurting himself.
“I was given a gift that I can’t explain how it works after losing my eyesight, provided I am the last person to get hold of something, I can remember the exact place where it is for more than 3 days, my good memory helps me to do such, apart from farm work I can cook and wash dishes without anyone’s help,” he said.
“When I wake up, I know where I left my equipment, I know where the cowshed is how to unlock and open doors as well as how to untie my cow If, for example, I have left a wheelbarrow somewhere then someone tempers or changes even slightly where I had left it that’s where I lose my track I’ll be unable to track it back,” he said.
“I plough my farm by myself, to make this possible I place a long stick where I have reached and that’s where ill start again the next day, he added.
Wandaki mysteriously lost his ability to see at the age of 6 years. He was to sit for his kindergarten exam before he was caught up by a headache.
“That day, he came home complaining of a headache. I took him to the hospital where doctors diagnosed him with malaria, he was given some medication before we were allowed to go back home. He had slept for about six hours when I woke him up for dinner, we were surprised to see him knocking on things as he was coming”, said his mother.
His parents took him to Kakamega General Hospital but their efforts to restore his eyesight were cut short due to a lack of funds to facilitate the treatment.
“Having run out of options we went back home hoping that one day he will regain his eyesight,” She added.
Days passed and Wakaki’s situation got worse limiting his ability to clearly see.
He stopped going to school, as his parents were unable to afford fees for the special learning of the visually impaired students.
His luck came in 2010 when he got a sponsorship from a non-governmental organization dubbed Network Support Disability.
He was referred to Machakos school for the blind, igniting his dream of becoming a farmer if he could complete his studies.
But the dream was cut short again when the person assigned to take care of him ran away with the sponsorship money.
“We unsuccessfully tracked him down, I was forced to drop out of school,” he said.
Back home, Wandaki decided he will not let his dream die. He ventured into farming on a piece of land his parents had dedicated to him.
His hard work in farming saw another sponsorship by United Kenya Rising coming in, and supporting his dream.
From farming, Wanki is able to feed his family and take his children to school.
“I have one cow and more than 10 chickens, after noting my hard work on the farm a non-governmental organization known as United Kenya Rising funded me, I have been depending on this for my daily needs, recently I sold 20 chickens that will help cater for my daughter’s school fees,” he said.
United Kenya Rising is an organization that funds people living below the poverty level in Kakamega County, they also sponsor needy students to access education.
“We were fascinated by his hard work despite his blindness. We call upon those living with various challenges to step out and get involved in meaningful projects that will help them,” said Nelson Ida, United Kenya rising general director.