“There are times when I shed tears when I look back at where I have come from. It has not been easy at all. But I am grateful to God that I have made it through the rain…
My name is Jacqueline Wambui Wangari. I am a 24-year-old entrepreneur. I run my own supply and procurement business in Nairobi called Jacqwa Enterprises.
For the better part of my life, I have been fighting to keep my sight in a battle against glaucoma – a disease that damages the eyes’ optic nerve. I lost this battle in 2003 and for the past 15 years, I have been visually impaired. This has not been the only battle I have had to go into. 2003 was a particularly dark year for me. I also lost my mother, Salome Muthoni. Although I was too young to comprehend the weight of her death at age nine, I have come to learn that she died from menengitis. Her death made me an orphan. I didn’t know my father, neither had I met him. I had no one to run to.
At my tender age, I was quite perturbed and sometimes wondered why my father didn’t turn up at home every evening like the fathers of my childhood buddies. Did he not love us? Were we to blame for his absence? This yoke would weigh heavier when my friends talked about their fathers. I wanted the same experiences. But I soon became aware that my mum did not want to talk about him. She would always casually tell me that she’d show him to me one day. Unfortunately, she died before I ever got to know him.
After my mum passed away, I was adopted by my auntie, Wangari Kariuki. She enrolled me in the Thika Primary School for the Blind in 2003. After sitting for my KCPE in 2010, I joined St. Lucy’s High School for the Visually Impaired where I managed a grade of C – (Minus) in my KCSE in 2014. In 2015, I joined the Machakos Teachers Training College for my diploma studies. I will never find enough words to express my gratitude to my auntie for loving and raising me like her own fresh and blood.
After completing my diploma studies, I ventured straight into business out of fear that the job market was already too crowded. I had saved Sh30,000 which I used to register my business and purchase procurement forms from various institutions in Murang’a County. I had settled on supplying cereals and groceries because they would not demand a physical office from which I could operate or make deliveries from. Luckily, some of the supply tenders I applied for went through.
Since I had already exhausted my Sh30,000 savings, I approached numerous cereals stores in Murang’a and Kimende in search of financing. Fortunately, Zaka Capital Enterprises and Kimende Stores agreed to loan me cereals and groceries worth over Sh100,000 on the strength of my Local Purchase order (L.P.O). We agreed that I would pay up once I got paid. This enabled me to deliver the goods on time, and settle the payments within the time frame we had set.
Today, my procurement business ventures are only a few months old. In fact, I am yet to break even. But I am glad that from re-investing my profits into the business, I am now better equipped to fund my LPOs. Nevertheless, I still face operational challenges. For example, I am not able to make transaction entries and maintain a business record as effectively as I would wish because of my eye problem.
Also, living with a disability has not been easy. There are people who don’t waste a minute to put me down. It is especially hurtful when my capabilities to deliver a business offer are judged based on whether my eyes can see or not. But I am not letting this put me down.
I decided a long time ago that I would not sit back and lament, blame God or wish that I was born and raised as a different individual. I have too many dreams and aspirations beckoning me to meet them, and this is just the beginning of my road to success.
While I do not actively seek to know who my real father is, I am aware that mountains never meet mountains, but people do. Today, he could be reading this story. Or he might reach out someday. Father, I am not bitter that you were not part of my life. Neither am I spiteful that you abdicated your fatherly duties. And if by chance you ever reach out, I will not turn away and refuse to meet up with you.
Perhaps I would want to know who you are and quench the curiosity of understanding how I came to be. But I will be honest with you and let you know that deep in my heart, I cannot take you as my day-to-day father or my father figure.”