UK University Honours Kenyan Woman After Being Disowned at Home.
Anne Wafula, a former Machakos Technical College teacher, has been awarded an honorary degree by the University of Essex in the United Kingdom.
Wafula was honored for her role in promoting disability equality in athletics through her participation in Paralympic competitions.
The UK institution stated in a statement dated Thursday, July 21, that Wafula’s story was inspiring, given that she had achieved remarkable milestones despite being disowned by her community in Bungoma county.
The Paralympic champion, who was born and raised in Bungoma county, lost her ability to walk as a child due to polio.
Born in Kenya in 2004, she began her Olympic career as the first Sub-Saharan African wheelchair racer to compete at the Paralympics in Athens.
In 2006, she became a British citizen and joined Team GB, and in 2007, she was officially recognized by the Queen at a Buckingham Palace reception for her work as a disabled athlete and involvement in charity work for people with disabilities.
The athlete, for her part, expressed hope that the recognition would inspire others facing similar challenges.
“To all of you graduating today, I never imagined that I could compete in the Paralympic games but I did. No matter what your dream is, pursue it. Hurdles may come in your way and it might be hard, but you have the world ahead of you and I encourage all of you to go out there and be the best you can be in whatever you choose to do.
“I believe our lives end and we die when we stay silent about issues that affect society. As you all take your next steps in your careers, remember to be kind, be supportive, and think before you judge,” she stated while receiving the award.
Wafula went on to say that gaining British citizenship changed her life, giving her more opportunities in sports and advocacy.
Several prestigious awards have been bestowed upon the Kenyan teacher for her advocacy work in the United Kingdom.
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Wafula was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2014 for her advocacy for disabled equality.
She also established the Olympic-Wafula Foundation to further some of her ideas about equality.