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Epilepsy And The Community

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We are delighted to share this report from Juliet Anyanzwa, valued member of the Kenyan Word Forest Team; it shines a light on how difficult having a disability can make things and how simple acts of kindness and inclusion can really transform someone’s life. The woman’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain characterised by repeated seizures. A seizure is a sudden alteration of behaviour due to a temporary change in the electrical functioning of the brain. 

Pendo is 39 years old and the mother of five kids. At the age of 2 years, she was diagnosed with epilepsy. Her parents did casual work and therefore couldn’t afford money for her treatment. 

No one wanted to associate with her at school and that traumatised her so much. 

Due to the situation, she dropped out of the school. 

Pendo lived a discouraged, hopeless and helpless life, thinking that it was a punishment from God. 

One morning her parents left her alone to go to the farm, leaving her to do the household chores. As she was cooking porridge, she had a seizure, only to wake up and find herself with burns and bruises all over her body and bleeding from her mouth. 

That became part of her life. 

At the age of 19, she got married because she thought she was becoming a burden to her family. Primary health care was something they couldn’t afford. When she was still with her parents back home, her mother would help her with household chores, unlike when she was married, when Pendo had to do the chores by herself. She persevered and endured a lot of challenges. Besides her husband loving her, some things were beyond his control. 

Pendo searched for casual work but all was in vain due to her condition. She and her husband lived a life of struggle which made her insecure. 

We were building an edible classroom at the Permaculture Teaching Centre, so she came and asked for a job. The foreman hesitated, but he was advised by the office to take her on. 

Pendo was employed for seven weeks and she was very grateful. 

She invested money on her farm and had a remarkable harvest. 

Pendo’s life has changed. The kids are now in school and they can manage to put food on the table. 

Pendo expressed her deepest appreciation and gratitude to the Word Forest for showing love and care. 

Word Forest has really helped and inspired many people in our community. Through its principles and ethics, Word Forest has tirelessly empowered women despite their conditions. 

I personally have learnt and felt the love and care without discrimination. 

Juliet Anyanzwa and the Kenya Team

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