Eight years ago, Zachary Kimotho was shot during a failed carjacking attempt in Nairobi, Kenya which left him in a wheelchair. Today, in an effort to raise money and awareness for the lack of healthcare services in Kenya, Kimotho is wheeling 4,000 miles to the closest spinal rehabilitation center, located in South Africa. He is appealing to his fellow Kenyans to donate what they can in order to raise the $2.9 million it would cost to construct a trauma and rehab center for spinal injury victims in their home country.
The Kenyan Paraplegic Organization (KPO) is the supporting group behind Kimotho’s journey and believes it will take more than a simple request to raise money for the center. In order to further encourage donations, the KPO is asking that the 14.9million M-PESA subscribers (a local cell service) will give as little as $0.11 by dialing 555# on their cell phones.
“I’m appealing to the public to donate money through M-PESA by dialing *555# on their cell phone or sending money to M-PESA pay bill no 522500,” explains Zack.
Kenya’s statistics show that over 50,000 people are injured each year in road accidents, and over 15,000 of them are left with spinal cord injuries. The cost of travelling, treatment and rehabilitation at the nearest facility in South Africa is nearly $117,000, a price much too high for most Kenyans.
With only one operating hospital in the country treating spinal injuries, the construction of this new center would change the lives for thousands of Kenyans. Unfortunately, donations are minimal and there is concern that Kimotho will actually reach South Africa before the money is raised. A trek that is dangerous on many levels for a man in a wheelchair.
“It’s either a rehab center here at home or going to South Africa on a wheelchair,” says Kimotho.