A Kenyan man who uses a wheelchair went to great lengths to bring support for disabled people to East Africa.
Zackary Kimotho, a 43-year-old who suffered a spinal injury after falling victim to a car-jacking in 2004, recently returned home after he successfully raised almost $900,000 while pushing himself across Africa in his wheelchair, The Star reports.
His effort raised sufficient funds to build the first ever Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Unit in Nairobi.
“Zack is the personality that…embod[ies] the trauma of spinal cord injury in Kenya,” Peter Arina, Chairman of the Kenya Paraplegic Organization Board of Trustees who helped to rescue Kimotho, told The Star. “This campaign has managed to create awareness both locally and internationally.”
The first phase of the campaign, entitled “Bring Zack Back Home,” received enough money from corporate and public organizations to begin construction of the center in September. As a result, Kimotho returned home from the rough, often dangerous, roads just before crossing over into Tanzania — travelling a total distance of roughly 54.5 miles.
“[Building the center] will be overwhelming for me,” Kimotho explains. “It’s a dream come true.”
Around 15,000 Kenyans suffer spinal injuries each year, according to Al Jazeera, yet the nearest spinal injury relief center exists in Cape Town, almost 2,500 miles away from the inhospitable terrain of Kenya.
“Once you acquire spinal injury disability [in Kenya] you fully acquire a new life, a life of difficulties in which you are dependent,” George Inguru, who is confined to a wheelchair, explains. “You can’t walk without somewhere that is flat, and our land, our terrain, is rough.”
Upon completion of the center, local spinal cord patients will be provided with affordable, easily accessible care that is currently unavailable.
“The kind of response we’re getting is quite encouraging…it is what is reenergizing me, Kimotho explains. “To know that people are listening; people are receptive. They can see the need.”