Saturday, April 13, 2024

How disabled Kisumu man uses one hand to mould his way out of poverty

He dropped out of school in 1989 while in lower primary.

This was barely four years after losing his parents.

He was disabled, and last born in a family of four kids.

But today, Samwel Otieno Awino is proud of himself.

People visit at home and give me orders. But If I had a workshop somewhere in town, I think I would make this business better,

Samwel Owino

He can put food on his table, and all his seven children are in school, with the first born being in the university.

“I still struggle, but I know everything will fall in place,” he says.

moulding
Samwel Owino displaying some of his crafts. (Photo: Kevine Omollo, LRB)

Africities Conference

During the Africities Conference held in Kisumu between May 17 and 21, Owino was one of the only two People Living With Disabilities (PWDs) who exhibited their products.

His mouldings stood out at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Sports Grounds.

There were mouldings of national leaders like President Uhuru Kenyatta, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, among others.

It is sad that I did not get a chance to exhibit at the venue of the main event (Mamboleo Showground), where I could have had higher chances to meet most of the people I have their moulds

Samwel Owino

When Lake Region Bulletin caught up with him on the evening of May 19, Owino was full of life.

Despite not selling a single craft during the conference, he was happy that his aim was met.

“It is a honour to come and exhibit in such an event,” he said.

He added: “It is sad that I did not get a chance to exhibit at the venue of the main event (Mamboleo Showground), where I could have had higher chances to meet most of the people I have their moulds.”

Clay soil

With clay soil, wood, mix of colours and villa, wino is able to create a person of his choice.

Each craft which weighs between two and five kilos go for between Sh7, 000 and Sh25, 000.

Owino was born in 1971 as the last born in a family of four.

He however developed physical disability which paralysed his right arm and leg.

“I was later told that my parents delayed to take me for polio vaccination, which led to the disability,” he said.

But he discovered his mouding talent in 1984 while in Standard Two.

“I could mould a number of things, just for fun,” he said.

He lost his parents in 1985, and a few years later, he dropped out of school.

“After losing my parents, I could not get school fees, and being disabled, I could not engage in the heavy menial jobs,” he said.

His brother-in-law helped him secure some scholarship at his local church to sharpen his mulding skills.

Samwel Owino

He joined a craft school in Kisumu’s Nyalenda Kowino Estate, where he took three years.

During this time, he was also training as a barber.

After three years stint at the craft school, he moved out and begun to start life.

He first ventured into a barber shop business in Kibuye in 1994, before relocating to Taita Taveta in 2000.

“There, I got Tanzanians who were good in moulding, and we worked together on different projects,” he said.

He however returned to his Kit Mikayi home in Seme in 2013 to concentrate in his moulding job.

And with no workshop, Owino does his work at home, and chases exhibition events within and outside Kisumu.

“People visit at home and give me orders. But If I had a workshop somewhere in town, I think I would make this business better,” he said.

Samwel Owino

Good example

His East Seme Location Chief Charles Achola describes him as a good example to the disability community.

“Owino is a resident of my location and I am proud of him. I would recommend him for any support to strengthen his work,” he said.

Owino who has been campaigning against street begging by disabled people is proud of his work.

“If God gives you life, then you need to do something meaningful with it, and not sitting down to beg,” he said.

From his moulding and barber shop business, Owino says he is able to put food on the table, and keep his children in school.

“Even though I struggle here and there, my prayer is that I earn a living from the work of my hand,” he says.

Kevine Omollo
Lake Region Bulletin is your one stop multi-media platform for news from Lake Region Counties of Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii, Nyamira, Vihiga, Kakamega, Busia, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Nandi, Kericho and Bomet. Email: komollo@lakeregionbulletin.co.ke omollokevine@gmail.com

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