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Cooked food vendor




November 1996


The main value of this testimony is that it is a moving account of life as a disabled person. The narrator expresses himself clearly, and provides insight into attitudes towards the disabled, both in times of conflict and peace, through his own sometimes harrowing experiences. He demonstrates a strong spirit that has enabled him to be successful despite the lack of state help, and the general belief that he should just stay at home. Against these odds, the narrator has managed to set up, with the help of his wife, a successful business, and send all his children to school.

Patrola’s disability put him at a serious disadvantage during the recent ethnic clashes. “I am one of those who suffered a lot. When the people ran away, my wife ran away, I stayed in the bush for three days. There was no drinking water, nobody to cook for me…I was hiding there, it was ten o'clock on the thirteenth, and the houses started burning. People in this area ran away. People on the mountain ran away with the cattle to Kimilili. But nobody could help me. A grown up like me, nobody could carry me up to Kapsokwony…it is hard. I just stayed up in the forest. I saw strange things. When it was dark, policemen started shooting in the air. I thought that they were looking for me. I thought they were enemies. I moved to the coffee plantation. I unfortunately fell into a hole full of safari ants. I was bitten by the ants, until nine o'clock in the morning when I crawled out of the hole.”

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  He got polio when he was small, leaving him without the use of his legs. Bought a wheelchair at the age of 16.
Section 2  Describes his work as cooked food vendor - has enabled him to send his children to school.
Section 2-3  Describes how surprised people were that he should go through the traditional circumcision ceremony like everybody else. “There were people who said that I'm lame, so it is not good for me to get circumcised. But I told them there was no way I would go to hospital. I will get circumcised with the rest of the age mates. I was taken to the river in a wheelbarrow”.
Section 3  His mother and brothers used to look after him, but how now it is his wife: “…a wife is someone who can help you, and she takes care of your needs, washes your clothes, everything.”
Section 4-5  His work history and how he eventually set up his current business. Poultry farming provided his initial capital.
Section 6  How important it is for him to send his children to school - fundraising for the fees - asked ActionAid and the government for help in educating his children but was unsuccessful.
Section 6-7  How disabled people are treated - lack of facilities and political will in the region. Problems caused by poor roads, particularly in cases of medical emergency “We have a very big problem in Mount Elgon. It is because we do not have enough roads. Like me, if it rains, it will be hard for me to go up to Kimilili…Even if you were to look at the big men we voted for, they do not help in any way. They go and disappear for five years and only come back to seek for more votes.”
Section 7-8  His own harrowing experience of the recent conflicts - forced to spend three days in the forest because he had no way of getting to Kapsokwony. How eventually he was moved away from the area, but his cows died, and then he was wrongly accused of stealing and beaten by the police.
Section 9  His message to other disabled people to have the courage and heart to survive. Some people have treated him badly because of his disability: “…people tell me that had I been able to walk, I would already have been dead or I could be a thief. That is why I say, when god created me and gave me this chance…each person has his own chance…Each has his own gift.”
Section 10  Describes how he has earned the respect of others through his hard work. The importance of education and his regret that his father did not send him to school because no one could carry him there. “Education is the first key. If a child does not learn, he/she is digging his/her own grave.” His wish that Mount Elgon have a school for the disabled and provision of wheelchairs.