Meet Kevin

When Kevin Wamuge’s life changed suddenly and traumatically in 2007 he never dreamed he could have the life he does today.

Kevin greets each morning with enthusiasm. He is passionate about his new job as a graphic designer. He spends his days transforming ideas into beautiful, creative visuals. Most importantly he is financially independent and hopeful for his economic future.

Kevin was born in Rongai, a town situated south of the Nairobi, Kenya. As a young boy, Kevin was happy, energetic and active. He loved to spend his free time hunting with friends and in school he excelled at playing football and ran on the cross-country team. He was an outgoing, socially confident kid.

In 2007, filled with excitement around starting high school and all the new experiences it would bring, everything changed in a moment for Kevin. Visiting his grandmother as was his routine, Kevin was caught in the crossfire of post-election violence. He sustained a spinal cord injury and instantly became a T5 paraplegic.

“I was traumatized,” Kevin shares. “I underwent a rollercoaster of emotions when I realized I would never walk again. I had expected to be enrolling in high school and instead found myself enrolled in rehabilitation. I needed counseling. It was that tough!”

In 2009, two years after his devastating injury, Kevin was finally able to begin high school at Joytown Secondary School. Joytown, a school designed for students with disabilities, offered Kevin needed hope of regaining the life he nearly lost in 2007. He knew this path would now look different, but he was not yet sure how. After he graduated from Joytown he enrolled in Kenyatta University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and Design.

Thanks to excelling in art at Joytown, Kevin was beginning to realize his talents lay in this field yet could not even envision the fact these skills would later be his path to earning a living.

Kevin graduated from the University in 2021 and, like all new graduates, launched a job search. The search, challenging for all newly minted graduates, proved to be twice as hard for Kevin. Unlike his abled-bodied peers who could distribute CVs around Nairobi with ease, Kevin quickly discovered as a Person with a Disability the process looked quite different for him. Distributing CVs for Kevin meant he needed to ask his family for cab fare as utilizing public transportation came with insurmountable accessibility challenges. Additionally, being a T5 paraplegic, Kevin needed to rely on the aid of others when he transferred from his wheelchair to any other vehicle. If the transfer worked, and often it did not, it still left Kevin emotionally drained. Even assistants with the best of intentions would frequently mishandle his repositioning and movement. All the extra steps required to execute a job search as a Person with a Disability left Kevin frustrated and disheartened. As a result, he stopped looking for employment.

What Kevin did not know, however, was the trajectory of his life was about to permanently shift. The Next Step Foundation had just begun searching for someone with his exact skillset and, thanks to a social enterprise organization with whom Kevin had left his CV, they identified him in their search.

Kenya Airways, an employment partner of Next-Steps Foundation, had a vacancy for a graphic designer and Kevin was the perfect fit. Right when his hope and faith was beginning to falter everything fell into place.

Kevin has been working at Kenya Airways for four months and now only does he love the work—the company loves him right back. He wakes each morning curious about what new tasks the day will bring and gets re-energized each time he receives positive feedback on his design work.

Kevin is exceptionally grateful to Next Step Foundation for placing him with Kenya Airways and facilitating his economic independence. This financial autonomy is life changing for any individual and even more so as a Person with a Disability.

He is hopeful Next Step Foundation will continue to support Persons with Disabilities and bridge the gap between PwDs and employers.

“Next Step Foundation literally saved me. It saved me from the struggle of navigating the accessibility barriers in my country alone. It is my hope they will also help thousands of other Persons with Disabilities who are seeking jobs and restore their hope of getting employed.”

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