How Mandela Washington Fellowship Changed Paraplegic’s View of Life

How Mandela Washington Fellowship Changed Paraplegic’s View of Life

Kenyan Paraplegic Man Completes Mandela Washington Fellowship, Says Experience Changed Him

  • Brian Muchiri Waihenya is on the verge of finishing his Mandela Washington fellowship at the Michigan State University, but he’s gained more than knowledge
  • The fact that people did not treat him differently because he’s on a wheelchair has made him build his esteem in ways he never imagined
  • This contrasts sharply with Kenya where he often encounters curious stares, overhears gossip about himself, and faces intrusive questions about his personal life

Brian Muchiri Waihenya has penned an emotional piece about his experience at the Mandela Washington fellowship at the Michigan State University.

Kenyan Paraplegic Man Completes Mandela Washington Fellowship, Says Experience Changed Him

Source: Facebook

As he comes to the twilight end of the course, it has hit him that he will soon pack his bags and leaving the wonderful place he has called home for the last six weeks.

Waihenya is coming back home different

In a post on Facebook, Waihenya disclosed that he been reflecting a lot about his journey here and the wealth of knowledge he has accumulated.

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According to him, he will be coming back to Kenya a different man and not the same “Chairman” he left.

“Certain things about me have changed and I believe that its all positive. Being in a different environment challenges you to ask more questions and seek understanding,” he stated.

Waihenya explained that by being away, he was able to realise that he still has a lot to learn about the world, and that adventure, travel and education are all imperative to development and growth.

What will you miss most?

He disclosed that someone recently asked him what he will miss most about his time at the campus, and his answer was that he likes how nobody cares.

As someone living with physical disabilities, he says for the first time in his life people did not give him stares as it happens back home.

In Kenya, Waihenya posits he is used to people pointing fingers at him or gossiping while standing behind his back, others asking how he goes to the bathroom.

“Here, no one cares about you or your wheelchair, you blend in seamlessly and for the most part, you are treated just like everybody else,” he underpinned.

Waihenya now has higher self-esteem

He recalled an incident where someone told him that humans are who they are because of their experiences and the people they meet.

Waihenya reiterates that being treated without bias has had tremendous impact on the way he looks and thinks about himself.

Going forward, he will hold his head higher and feel like he has something of substance to contribute.

“Soon, I will be home and things won’t be as they are. But I will have changed and that is the most important thing, in the end. Change is as good as rest,’ he concluded.

Lost mobility to car accident

Waihenya was born with both legs but life changed when he was 19 years old after being involved in a car accident.

According to him, he went from being a charming son of the countryside to an unidentified stranger in the hospital bed battling with death and almost losing.

Waihenya and other passengers were headed from town to home when a trailer left its lane and rammed into their vehicle, killing the three men in the car.

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