Kenyan woman tells her story of accomplishments despite disability

PSC students receive inspiring talk from Kenyan woman badly burned when she was four years old.

Motivational speaker from Kenya

Motivational speaker from Kenya

Students at Ponoka Secondary Campus (PSC) received an inspirational speech from a Kenyan woman who was severely burned when she was four-year-old.

Janet Auma spoke to Grade 10 students Wednesday, April 22 about how her life changed dramatically after falling into an open fire pit. The effect of the fire was so serious that part of her face melted off and her neck was joined to her shoulders for many years.

“It took 11 months while I was in the hospital,” said Auma.

Help for Auma came from an organization called A Better World Canada. The organization asked Auma to speak on a campaign called Disability is not Inability. It helped pay for her surgery that reconstructed her face and detached her neck from her shoulders.

While this improved her life, it took some time before the pain of the surgery went away.

Rather than stay at home Auma, went back to school and overcame many obstacles. “Kids were really scared of me,” she recalled.

She continued on with her education and once she completed Grade 8, went on to high school. While many people in the area usually finish their education at Grade 8, Auma completed high school and pursued her interest in design work.

She went to a vocational school and learned how to sew clothing, sheets and studied interior design; all this despite having only one usable hand. Auma also gave students some insight into life in Kenya and she explained she sews uniforms for students.

“You have to wear a school uniform in Kenya,” said Auma.

A Better World Canada was inspired by Auma’s determination, so it sent her to Canada for her first time to tell her story and to remind students that life continues on despite disabilities.

“I can do everything as other people can do,” she stated.

Her sewing skills are at such a high level that Auma does not use patterns when creating dresses or jackets. She says she gets a visual of what she wants and sews from there.

As this was her first time in Canada, Auma has had to get use to some differences, especially the weather; Kenya is quite warm. “It’s not cold like in Canada,” she joked.