My name is Catherine Karimi Murithi. I’m a 37 years old principled lady raised in a Christian family, married and a mother of 2 beautiful ❤ girls.
I’m the first born in a family of 6 children. My last sibling was born with a physical disability. One day my mother came home with a new born baby. When she invited us to see him for the first time, I noticed he was different but I never understood why this was so. Despite this we all loved him and tried our best to make him comfortable. I always carried him around whenever I went out because I considered him to be very handsome and everybody was always fighting to hold him.
I have a Diploma in Community Development & Counseling from the Technical University of Mombasa and Bachelor’s Degree in Development Studies from Mount Kenya University. Growing up I always had a passion for helping others. Whenever someone was in need in high school, I was always the first to lend a helping hand. Sometimes I could even go out of my way to offer my shopping to help out a needy student. Some even took advantage of me due to my kind nature. When I finished high school, I didn't know what profession to pursue. My mother was the one who guided me in choosing a course in Community Development and Counseling. She knew exactly what profession would suit me more based on my character. As the mothers know best, hahaha!
In my college years I was always attached to a charitable organization volunteering my time & service to help improve the lives of the less fortunate in the society. The dream to start Stichting why not? started in 2008 when I first met Francis, Marloes and Annemiek while volunteering at the chief’s office as his personal secretary. During that time, I assisted them in mobilizing the parents in order to bring out their children (with special needs) at utange school for some activities that had been organized by my 3 Dutch friends. At that time, I assisted them in carrying out some activities with the children and also acted as an interpreter since my Dutch friends didn't understand our native language “Kiswahili”. I remember that I and chief Victor (assistance chief) walked from Mwembelegeza to utange by foot inviting parents to bring out their children with special needs at Bamako for registration. It was an eye opener for me, because I got to interact with the villagers and a lot of parents brought their children for the registration. This also gave the parents a lot of hope.
When the 3 Dutch friends went back to Holland, they contacted me requesting for support to register why not in Holland which I agreed to. After the registration was successful in Holland Kim, Marloes and Annemieke visited Kenyan with the hope to start a foundation in 2010. When I learnt about their desire to register the foundation here in Kenya, I told myself I was not going to be left behind in this beautiful story. Due to the good relationship, we had with them I was appointed as the Kenyan representative who would act as a link between the foundation, the NGO coordination board & our Dutch founders. Registering Stichting why not? with the NGO coordination board was not an easy task. By the grace of God Stichting why not was registered as a nongovernmental organization in 2012 under the NGO coordination board. By this time the organization had established itself near Utange primary school where we rented an office to carry out our activities. It has been a great and an inspiring journey working hand in hand with our founders to build the organization to where it is today.
Registering Stichting why not? with the NGO coordination board was not an easy task. By the grace of God Stichting why not was registered as a nongovernmental organization in 2012 under the NGO coordination board. By this time the organization had established itself near Utange primary school where we rented an office to carry out our activities. It has been a great and an inspiring journey working hand in hand with our founders to build the organization to where it is today.
Today I am happy to report that under my supervision and that of our founders and able team of volunteers we have an active board, we have 6 active projects that play a big role in empowering children with special needs and their families in Mombasa County. Stichting why not has spread its wings far & wide and boasts of partnering with institutions like APDK, NCPWD, EARC, Mombasa Goldencare Clinic among others so as to improve our service delivery. The establishment of Stichting why not in Mombasa County has helped to reduce stigma among the indigenous communities and its environs. It has also encouraged and increased acceptance of children with disabilities in the families and communities they come from. Parents no longer hide their children. Instead they carry them with pride whenever we invite them to our office for activities, parties and joint functions with our partners that aim to create awareness.
My plans going forward is to:
1) help improve the partnership we already have with our partners;
2) find other ways to raise funds locally so as to increase sustainability;
3) organize more training to equip our parents with knowledge & information to help change their minds set;
4) encourage more parents to join support group's so as to give them economic independence;
5) improve the infrastructure of the local special units we work with, so as to improve the quality of education.