We had set up this meeting through Facebook over two weeks ago, before the meeting, Nickodemus had sent me documents to go through to help me understand what he does.
This meeting was to introduce me to the man behind the great works I had read and seen on different platforms.
For those of you who have attended any of our events (graduations, conferences etc) you know that Nick Makau is a difficult man to miss, ever chatty, lively and full of energy. He is a man who shows up when called upon, and even when not called upon, he knows how to create demand for his skills and personality.
He walks into the office at 11:35AM and immediately lets me know that he is five minutes late, never mind he had called me two hours earlier, to inform me that he’ll be slightly late because he was in another meeting, I can’t help but appreciate his politeness.
He immediately starts engaging my colleagues about the work he is doing in different parts of Nairobi. The passion for his work will automatically draw you to him, little wonder he was appointed as the PWDs representative in the office of the Member of Parliament – Starehe. Mr. Makau tells me how one time while he was going to donate pampers and clothes to a group of women with disability, he decided to call his MP and ask for assistance, not only did he get more than enough pampers after the call, but he also got five wheelchairs to donate. That marked the beginning of his engagement with the office of the MP that saw him land the appointment.
As I usher him into the boardroom for our meeting, he first lets me know how grateful he is to ELF, “mimi ELF imenitoa mbali, kuna vitu mingi sikujua lakini sasa niko na organization yangu.” (ELF has transformed me, I didn’t know a lot but today I run my own organization).
I become more intrigued by this statement and upon further probing, Mr. Makau explains to me how he came to ELF with a dream; to support persons with disability and make their issues and needs mainstream. He had registered his organization but it was dormant, at ELF he was challenged to dream, to believe and to pursue excellence. His events started being well organized, he learnt how to connect with people and pitch his ideas with a perfect ask.
Nikodemus is a busy man, during our one hour meeting his phone couldn’t stop buzzing, everyone needing a piece of his mind and skills. One of the calls he had received was from the headteacher of Pumwani Primary School who had requested him to join the school board. He had asked for time to think about it, but given how excited he was while telling me this story, I think he’ll offer his management skills to the school. He would later show me his certification in corporate governance, an opportunity he got after volunteering with us last year during our graduation.
“I want people with disability to be financially stable, to feed their families and take their kids to school.” He tells me stories of PWDs in the informal settlements where he works, who go without meals and can’t afford basic needs. Makau is armed with photos and videos, I sort of start to feel as if he was more prepared for this meeting than I was.
“Walemavu wote wanapaswa kua na NHIF card” says Nikodemus when I asked him about his greatest achievement as a representative of PWDs in the office of the MP. He tells me that so far in Starehe, with the help of government they have registered about 200 PWDs in the health insurance scheme, his target is to ensure that every person who is abled differently is covered through NHIF. He has also facilitated over 50 people to get access to wheelchairs which they would otherwise not afford.
About his dreams, Nikodemus hopes to have a community centre that is dedicated specifically to PWDs where they can hold their events and form a support system. He is already in talks with government and other partners like the UN about this dream.
He runs a registered CBO (Independent of the Disabled Persons of Kenya – IDPK) through which he facilitates all the activities across Nairobi.
He informs me that there is not a single office in this country which he hasn’t accessed, no high-ranking personality whom he has not spoken to, and he is willing to keep walking this journey until his final breathe, he speaks those final words to me with a sense of passion, sincerity and urgency. He is a man on the clock and has to be at another meeting by 1 o’clock. We promise to touch base again at one of his events in May where he made me promise that I will go with an ELF banner. He wants everybody to know about the organization that set his heart on fire and helped him identify his purpose in life.
Jim India ¬ ELF Communications Officer