MCA turned peace ambassador calls on Government to protect women ahead of polls
A Nakuru nominated Member of County Assembly who lost eyesight after she fled home at the height of post-election violence in 2007 has become a peace ambassador.
Emma Mbugua recalls that she had sought refuge in Uganda during 2007-2008 post-election violence.
“I went through a traumatising period in Uganda. I lost my eye sight at the age of 25 because I could not access affordable eye clinic while in a foreign land,” says Mbugua.
Born in Bahati Constituency in 1980, Mbugua joined Our Lady of Fatima Primary School before transiting to AIC Morop Girls’ School where she sat for her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations in 1999.
“I wanted to join college but my parents were peasant farmers and could not raise the required fee,” she says.
Mbugua then left for Nairobi in search of work and luckily got a marketing job saving some money that helped her to pay for computer courses.
“I did not complete my studies due to lack of school fees but my zeal to succeed was still intact,” she says during an interview with Kenyan Woman.
In 2007, Mbugua’s family relocated to Busia where the father was working. In November of that same year, she started developing severe headache, pain and red eyes.
“I visited Lang’ata and Kikuyu Eye Hospital and I was diagnosed with a condition known as Retinitis.”
Slowly things changed from bad to worse after they were caught up in post-election violence on December 28th, 2007.
“Youth came baying for our blood but we sort refuge at the Tororo Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) Camp in Uganda,” Mbugua explains.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni came to their rescue when he directed that post-election violence victims at the Busia border be allowed into the country without documentation.
“During our stay in Uganda, some youth from Kenya came and poisoned the water supply in the camps but luckily this was detected and no one consumed the contaminated water,” claims Mbugua.
While in Tororo, her eye problem recurred and she visited St Joseph Hospital.
“They referred me for specialized treatment in Kenya or Tanzania but we were unable to travel as the violence in Kenya had escalated.”
“That is how I lost my eyesight. I was bitter and wished I could die. I refused to eat and severe malaria struck me,” she recalls.
Luck came knocking when a journalist from Kenya highlighted their plight in Uganda.
“Moved by my story, an organisation known as Sight Savers International came to my rescue but I was reluctant when officers from the organization came for me,” she says.
She later accepted the offer and was airlifted together with her mother to Nairobi and that’s how she came to accept herself after a comprehensive rehabilitation and counselling.
“My family came back to Kenya later, thanks to the organisation, and I was able to cope with my condition. Thereafter, I worked for numerous organisations before I ventured into politics in 2013.”
Although she was not elected, Mbugua was lucky to be nominated as a woman representing persons with disability to the Nakuru County Assembly.
Mbugua undertook to sensitise Persons with Disabilities on provisions in the constitution and available opportunities in the devolved systems of government.
“I believe in the African Spirit of forgiveness. What we can do is to unite the country for a prosperous tomorrow,” Mbugua said.
During the 2013 Mashujaa Day celebration in Nakuru, she was recognized as a peace ambassador and for her work in fighting for the rights of persons living with disability.
“I engage construction companies, road contractors, courts and hospitals to put up structures that can accommodate persons living with disability.”
Mbugua says she will not quit politics until the lives and rights of the persons living with disability and the youth are improved and adhered to.
She hopes to be nominated again to the Nakuru County Assembly and will hopefully vie for the county’s Senatorial seat in 2022.
Her prayer is that Kenyans maintain peace during the electioneering period. She says that the recent warning of possible violence outbreak during the August 8 polls by European Union Election Observation Mission is worrying.
“We cannot afford to plunge our nation into chaos and mayhem due to politics. Our leaders must take the initiative to preach peace, unity and integration of all tribes.”
Mbugua has been using social media platforms, political rallies and chief’s barazas to intensify her peace campaigns in Nakuru.
“Advocating for peace among different tribes is our responsibility and, therefore, we should go to any length to achieve it,” reiterates Mbugua.
Noting that during times of war it’s the women, elderly, children and persons living with disabilities who suffer most, Mbugua stresses on the need for peace before, during and after elections.
With monitors from the European Union Election Observation Mission warning of possible chaos, Mbugua is calling upon the Government to up its game to protect Kenyans.
“The Kenyan government must protect its citizens by making sure there is peace and no one losses life or property due to an election,” Mbugua maintains.
She points out that the Kenya government has already launched the Kenya National Action Plan on UN Security Resolution 1325 and thus has a responsibility to maintain peace during the electioneering period.
The UN Security Resolution 1325 requires parties in a conflict to prevent violation of women’s rights and support women’s participation in peace negotiations and in post-conflict reconstruction. It also calls for protection of women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence in armed conflict.