FINDING VICTORY DESPITE THE CHALLENGE: Lessons Learned Through the Foggy Eyes Beatrice Waithaka (New Vision Publishing Services, Cincinnati, Ohio 45224, 2016, softcover)

“Finding Victory Despite the Challenge” advances a premise based on overcoming hindrances and getting ready for the next while exploring the defies of living with a handicap in a community, society, and indeed a world that is unaccepting alluding the pain and struggles such individuals, their siblings, and parents go through. She emphases on enlightening, reinforcing and inspiring the reader to obstinately pursue victory despite the deterrents on one’s pathway. she acknowledges her strong fortitude to her relationship with God, notwithstanding the contemplative reality of being different, unable to do chores, as easily and dealing with the ever persistent rhetorical question “why.”

The book is not an imaginary narrative but a real journey this writer experienced as she navigated through the rough terrain of being “legally blind” in a developing country, that lacked, at least then, basic accommodations for the handicapped, yet, like any other “normal” child, expected to pursue her education and dreams.  The writer recounts her experience with visual disability in a way that only she can as she narrates her challenges and the looming journey she undertook with her family, friends, and in some cases alone. She recounts endless visits made to different hospitals and the many inconclusive tests she underwent in pursuit of an evasive medical cure, and the subsequent prognosis that she had Stargardts, a common form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration disease, which led to her being labeled legally blind and sending shockwaves to her family.

The significance of Beatrice’s offering is not to solicit pity or sympathy rather an unveiling, as it were, of her struggles with what people with normal eyesight consider as “normal” chores, for example, depending on rides; walking without tripping over people in a party, or bumping into things on your path; and so on, yet she pulls off these struggles asserting, “it’s in being stretched that one creates room for a blessing.” Yet, terrorized by the fear of shame, as reality of visual impairment crystalizes, she agrees that “the dark places” wrought her to who she is today, those dark places of disabilities; those dark places of incidents and accidents; those dark places without access to resources and recreation; those dark places of loneliness, all combined fashioned her, crafting her, to an individual who does not know what giving up looks like. She embraces a vision of herself disavowing the present circumstances as a predictable for her future, refusing to let go a dream of a woman making a difference in the world deeply engraved in her mind.

To what others consider proverbial, to her it was axiomatic; of being accosted with oratorical questions; of being relegated from school teams; of being disregarded and considered as almost invisible, yet every day she woke up with a purpose.  In the end, despite the challenges, the focus she suggests needs to shift from trepidations, anxieties, angsts, or apprehensions, to what we individually can do through the power of God within us to overcome our life’s hindrances. After all, we are all impaired, and the different spiritual doctors we have visited have failed to provide us with a working solution. We need “The Great Physician, who knows and understands our condition.”

 Reviewed by Julius Mwangi, MSc AIM; MDiv.

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