“My name is Monicah, I’m 40 and have always lived with my parents. When I was young, I was taken to school and I really enjoyed playing with other children. I did not stop playing even when I came of age until the other children started laughing at me. I understood that it is odd for someone at the age of 15 to still carry round toys like a baby.
At some point I also stopped going to school, I can’t remember when because I don’t keep in my memory of these things. Details about when something started and when it stopped usually bother me and I’d rather not keep thinking about them, because anyway, I won’t remember.
At home, I hear people speak about people with disabilities. What comes to mind is probably… someone who cannot walk…, cannot see…, cannot hear, someone who is not possibly human, something!
I have never seen such a person and I don’t understand what people mean. Anyway, like I told you before, I do not concern myself with things too difficult for me to understand.
This time they told me that they want to write a book about the gifts of people with disabilities so they asked about what I have to say, but as I told you, I don’t know such people so I say nothing.
I can only tell you about my friends with whom I work. I know them very well. They are never in a hurry to do anything and so work is enjoyable. Sometimes they tell me stories about their life, and we really laugh together and at each other. Some of us stammer too much, you can listen to them the whole day without understanding a word.
I like my friends very much, in fact I’m in love with one. I think that one day I want to get married and have children just like my mother and father. I think our children will have so much fun that they will want to remain at home and not go to school. But I know it is important to have an education. Because I’m working, I will be able to take them to school.
But something remains a mystery to me, who are these that I hear people called ‘disabled’?”
This text is the preface to Beloved, transforming encounters, a book published by L’Arche Kenya and St Martins communities.