Go for whatever you want in life despite the discouragements and disappointment you may encounter-Ken Abuom words he truly lived by♥ This past weekend I was given the news that a very sweet and dear dear friend had passed away in Africa. Ken Abuom was a Husband, Father, Son, Brother, Uncle, Friend. Ken and I connected through the foundations facebook page back in the beginning of when I was putting the foundation together. We were connected through a mutual friend and we have communicated, e-mailed for almost 2 years. His loss is a profound loss to me but also to those in his family none more so than his 8 year old Son. No matter what circumstances occured in Ken’s life he prevailed like no one else I know. It was tragically just 3 months ago that Ken lost his beloved wife and best friend June she passed away right before the Christmas Holidays and now tragedy has struck the Abuom family once again with the passing of Ken. I can not even begin to fathom being 8 years old and losing both parents in a 3 month time frame. What I do know is I am forever going to check and make sure his Son is getting what he needs and encourage him that his parents loved him and would want him to grow up and be happy and successful in whatever he chooses to do. To let him know his Father was Inspirational and a Hero to many of us in our epilepsy community.
Ken had a very hard life, he had Epilepsy and suffered so much because of it he shared stories with me that were so shocking and something out of respect for the family and the privacy of his Son I will not share on here but what I can say is he was severely ridiculed and mistreated because of it. Epilepsy is not fully understood in other countries but Ken was a strong advocate working to change that and he was making great progress and strides in the villages of Kisumu and Migori.
He teamed up with a wonderful organization Youth on the Move an organization which empowers youth with epilepsy through innovative awareness actions. They help guide youth with epilepsy to build up their skills, stand up for themselves and transform their desires into realistic plans and actions! In Kenya over more than 800,000 people have epilepsy so according to Youth on the Move the chance of getting epilepsy is three times higher in Kenya than in developed countries. Many Kenyans confuse epilepsy with witchcraft, demon possession, a worm in the brain and they often think it is contagious and God’s punishment. In stead of going for reliable medical treatment, 80% of Kenyans makes use of the herbalist (Daily Nation, April 2009). Only 20% of Kenyans with epilepsy take reliable Anti-Epileptic Drugs (research KEMRI, 2008). This hinders them to equally participate in society. They are often excluded from school, work, church and other social activities. A major challenge of youth with epilepsy is to stand up for themselves and to avoid violence, unsafe sex and unplanned pregnancy. In Zambia 37% of people with epilepsy reported physical abuse from members of their household. This same research revealed that 20% of women with epilepsy have once experienced rape, against 3% of women without epilepsy. In the US, 30% of women with epilepsy got unplanned pregnant before the age of 24 years, a higher rate than in the general population. These findings make it clear to us that the social empowerment of persons with epilepsy is a necessity rather than an addition to the medical care.
Ken was working with them to help change the way epilepsy was thought of and the way people with epilepsy were treated. He was a true mover and he was instrumental in working on awareness creation in Kisumu and Migori, he was dedicated to making a difference and he did not let lack of funds stop him from getting where he needed to be and to go often walking many hours to get their. Ken realized the importance of training those with epilepsy that they can live a normal life and not live in fear of being ridiculed that it was nothing to be ashamed of. I was recently told that it was me that encouraged and empowered him that he often spoke of our communication and how much he valued his friendship with me but yet he was the one that inspired me, empowered me he had so many words of wisdom when I needed but yet he felt I was the one with the wisdom that speaks volumes to me about the kind of man Ken was.
Ken Abuom was an honorable man, loving man, caring and kind. He was a wonderful father, husband who often spoke to me about his beloved June and his Son they meant everything to Ken his entire family did. Ken was not just an advocate for Epilepsy he was an advocate for those he loved. Ken was loyal, dedicated, compassionate, funny, thoughtful and had a smile that I will never ever forget and one that I am going to miss more than anything. His smile was so big it is now lighting up the heavens and I can imagine Ken sitting with our children that we have lost sharing stories, laughter, smiles and teaching them many lessons on how they can help us from above to continue his mission so that we carry on his legacy to keep changing the hearts and minds of those who don’t yet understand the facts of living with epilepsy.
Tonight I saw a shooting star and I felt it was Ken letting me know he is finally seizure and epilepsy free and to go forward and keep his dream alive that we fight to rid the world of the stigma and the fear of living with this infliction. That its important to continue the educating of everyone we can reach out too so that people like Ken in other countries no longer have to live in fear or be ridiculed mistreated due to being different. I often spoke to Ken about my faith he believed in God and often asked me questions about my faith I used to tell him on days that he felt alone your never alone that you were given this life because God knew you were strong enough to live it. Its funny their is a saying “Family is not always blood its the people in your life that want you in theirs the ones that accept you for who you are the ones that would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.” Truer words have never been spoken Ken was family to me.
It’s at times like these that words are so hard to come by it’s hard to know what to say how do you honor a friend who meant so much who was called home because the Lord needed him more but yet you find it hard to understand how he could of been taken so young and when his work here was not yet completed. Whatever the reason its not ours to question for the Lord knows why and that is all that is important and one day when we meet again we will find out that reason but until then the best thing we can do is to honor Ken’s memory by working hard every day to advocate and spread raise awareness. To continue to support and help the people of Africa and the Youth on the Move organization to which he so loved being a part of.
Elizabeth Kubler Ross wrote ”The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep, loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. ” She was right because some people look for a beautiful place but others make a place beautiful.
Ken Abuom you were one of the most beautiful people and you made my life and my place so incredibly beautiful. You had a heart of gold and an amazing spirit, a generous and beautiful soul and I will love and miss you everyday of my life but will honor you each and every day. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHooH4464dQ&feature=related
For any of my friends and part of my foundation the Epilepsy Warriors that want more information on Youth on the Move and or to donate to their organization in Ken’s memory http://www.youth-on-the-move.com/
God Bless you my friend and I will always remember you. May God shower his choicest blessing over you and the ones you love now and forever more.
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.