Kennedy Ng’ang’a: Artist and Philanthropist

A dynamic personality is gaining popularity among many Facebook users around the world, especially those who live and thrive with some of life’s toughest challenges. Philanthropist and artist Kennedy Ng’ang’a inspires thousands of people with his captivating personality and caring heart. Paint with bold strokes using your clenched hand to hold the brush. His colorful imagination pours into his art as if his paralyzed body is dancing and singing.

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Kennedy. Using Facebook messaging, we talked for three hours. Only when the interview began did I realize that Kennedy knuckled his responses on the little keypad of his phone. Looking back at the questions I asked him, they now seem too simple, but his answers filled our conversation with wisdom and an uplifting attitude. When asked what he wanted the world to know about him, he replied, “My challenges, my courage, my art, my dream of serving the community through my beloved mother’s foundation, the Mama Kennedy fund.”

When Kennedy was injured in a diving accident in 1992, his mother took care of her son. She passed away in June of last year, and Kennedy desperately misses her, but keeps her alive through his art and philanthropy. “My mother was an angel and still is. She is the secret behind my survival as a quadriplegic for the last 19 years … [she] He took care of me tirelessly. She taught me to love, to be kind, to forgive and never give up, no matter what. [I] I cry a lot for my mom as I write these words. “

The history of the Mama Kennedy Fund is featured on Kennedy’s website. “In August 2011, with around US $ 175.00 I started a fund … at our local Mtopanga Revival Baptist Church, where she has been the oldest, and also the senior member in her honor, and also to maintain her legacy of devotion. for the welfare of others, alive. ” Most of the proceeds from the sale of Kennedy’s art are donated to support the fund.

Kennedy tells me of his desire to help the “disabled group called Mbazizo Disability Self Help Group in the poorest area of ​​Kenya …” This group heard about Kennedy’s philanthropy and honored him by inviting him to be their sponsor. On Mother’s Day, the Mama Kennedy Fund delivered supplies, gifts and other much-needed items to the group … Ken writes on Facebook: “The group is from a poor and forgotten arid area where merciless poverty reigns.” Post photos from the event showing smiling faces amidst a Christmas atmosphere. No one would guess that people dressed in bright colors feel more than hope.

Kennedy’s daily schedule allows him to be productive and healthy. For about two hours he works on his art, between 10:30 am and 1:00 pm. After that, he lies for an hour on his back with his legs suspended. His brothers help him exercise every night before he falls asleep. “I also kneel with the help of my metal bar over my head for 30 minutes three times a day. I do push-ups, pull-ups, etc.”

Kennedy’s close friend Shell Harris, who lives in San Antonio, Texas, volunteers her time to promote and sell Kennedy’s artwork. Shell writes: “Meeting Kennedy has enriched my life in more ways than I can describe. Here is a man who is confined to his ‘house’, which is nothing more than a mud hut with a leaky roof and not even a subfloor, electricity or running water. Spends most of the time in a makeshift bed. Hasn’t seen a doctor in over 15 years. His only view of the world is through a small window next to his bed. Yet it paints such beauty! “

Over the past year, Kennedy’s Facebook presence has grown stronger and friends are added every day. Another of Kennedy’s friends, Freya Pruitt, also from San Antonio, wrote an article in her magazine “Transforming Today’s World” featuring Kennedy’s art and courage. On Friday, May 18, he held an auction to sell many of Kennedy’s original paintings to help Kennedy and the Mama Kennedy Fund.

When people see Kennedy’s artwork, it is almost inevitable that they will be drawn to its spirit. The art is colorful and alive. Paint pictures of Kenyan life, natural beauty, and amazing animals. His subjects move through his canvases, vibrant and alive, drawing us into his world of dreams and hopes and his visions of how life in Kenya might one day look like for him and others who are poor and disabled. Kennedy shares something with others who face daunting challenges that living with a disability often generates incredible gifts of compassion and self-expression.

Lately, Kennedy sometimes woke up to find her legs and feet bleeding from the bites of rats invading her home. The anguish I felt over this disturbing news, however, was soon alleviated by an email from Kennedy with the subject line “A stranger in my castle.” He wrote: “This strange intruder who looks more like a cat than a giant rat came to our shack 3 days ago and has driven the rats away and taken over the territory. He only appears at night and has done no harm other than digging holes. on our dirt floor and stealing my mangoes and bananas. He also looks like a snake eater, which is also a bonus. ” Submit images of the large rodent-like creature. I immediately search the internet and discover that your guest is a genet. I answer him and tell him what the animal is and that they look a lot like cats or ferrets. Some people keep them as pets. The genet answers the prayers of many people, especially Kennedy’s.

At the end of the interview, I feel closer to Kennedy than many people I have known over the years. He is my “dear brother” and he always congratulates me with “my dear older sister”. It touches me every day I meet him, and inspires me as I find my own other abilities.

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