Several organizations were awarded for their role in advocating for persons with disabilities and highlighting the role they play in society at the Malaika Tribute Awards.

The organizations included Deaf eLimu Plus Limited for persons with hearing disability, Heshima Children’s Centres representing Children with Special Needs, Utugi Angels representing Children with Multiple Disabilities and Kenya Society for the Blind on their advocacy on persons with visual impairment. For their role in promoting persons living with albinism and supporting climate change, the Save Our Rivers Initiative was feted. Nayomi Wafula from Safaricom PLC received Special Recognition for her advocacy for PWDs.

The organizations were recognised for their role in empowering persons with disabilities on critical issues such as climate change, education, mental health, access to healthcare, equality and inclusion, children’s rights, and youth empowerment.

Others feted were Special Olympics Kenya that saves athletes with intellectual disabilities. Kamili Organisation for their wide-ranging support for persons with Psychosocial disabilities, and for their support for Youth and Children with Disabilities, Action Network for the Disabled received an award. The Disabled Empowerment Society of Kenya were recognised for their role in supporting more than 800 persons with physical disabilities from informal settlements while the Vitiligo Society of East Africa was awarded for ensuring persons living with vitiligo access education opportunities.

The event brought together individuals and organizations that promote the rights, wellbeing and independence of persons with disabilities.

The nominees were selected by a team from the National Council for Persons with Disabilities. This follows a long-year search for unsung heroes going beyond what would be considered a setback and doing remarkable initiatives for persons with disabilities in the community.

The winners walked away with a KES 100, 000 cheque.

The awards, started in 2012 by award-winning singer Daddy Owen, pay tribute to persons with disabilities making a difference in Kenya, and was sponsored by Safaricom PLC and the M-PESA Foundation.

The Malaika Tribute Awards are held annually alongside the International Day of Persons with disabilities which is observed every 3rd day of December.

“This event is close to my heart as a person with a disability. There are wrong misconceptions and assumptions about our abilities. That was the main reason I started Malaika Tribute Award to celebrate achievements by people with various forms of disabilities. Every year we award individuals for the exploits they do in society but this year we wanted to highlight the role organizations play in the promotion of diversity and inclusion in the case of PWDs.” said Malaika Tribute Awards Founder, Daddy Owen.

This year’s theme aims to raise awareness of invisible disabilities that still impact people’s lives such as learning differences, chronic pain or fatigue, sight or hearing impairments, diabetes, brain injuries, neurological disorders, or cognitive dysfunctions.

“Disability inclusion is part of Safaricom’s business ethos, and the company has continued to accelerate this agenda to ensure that no one is left behind. Let us make the environment safe for people with visible and invisible disabilities so that they can speak without fear and stigma. Let us also understand that not everyone with a hidden disability knows about it so it also calls on each of us to extend grace,’’ said Safaricom Chief Special Projects, Joe Ogutu.

Safaricom PLC is part of the valuable 500; a world movement that ignites systemic change by unlocking the business, social and economic value of the 1.3 billion people with disabilities worldwide. Safaricom believes in diversity and inclusion and is committed to eliminating stigma and discrimination, driving collaboration with partners and demonstrating continued sustainable support and inclusion for the persons with disabilities. Safaricom has developed inclusive strategies, products and services to drive the participation of persons with disabilities be it customers, partners and/or employees.

Below is the full list of winners:

1. Deaf eLimu Plus Limited – Persons with Hearing Disability

2. Heshima Children’s Centres – Children with Special Needs

3. Utugi Angels – Children with Multiple Disabilities

4. Save Our Rivers Initiative – Persons living with Albinism

5. Special Olympics Kenya – Athletes with Intellectual Disabilities

6. Kenya Society for the Blind – Persons with Visual Impairment

7. Kamili Organization – Persons with Psychosocial Disability

8. Action Network for the Disabled – Children and Youth with Special Needs

9. Vitiligo Society of East Africa – Persons living with Vitiligo

10. Disability Empowerment Society of Kenya – Persons with Physical Disability in informal Settlements.

11. Nayomi Wafula – Special Recognition for advocating for PWDs.