Joel Kiprotich is a beekeeper from Baringo County, Kenya. Today his life is full of hope, but his childhood was very difficult.

At the age of three he was diagnosed with an eye problem and although the infection was cured, he could no longer see out of that eye. After two years, following a serious accident, Joel lost his second eye, leaving him completely blind.

Although dependent on his parents to help him walk and perform daily tasks, Joel was always a determined boy and, as he grew up, attempted to become self-sufficient by working in fruit farming. Unfortunately, drought, which is recurrent in the area, caused the business to fail.

Joel, then, decided to experiment with beekeeping, which his father already practiced and which can be managed with less physical effort than farming and fruit farming. He started with five hives and, after an initial bountiful harvest, bought himself another hive.

Joel’s determination pushed us to involve him in the project “Agri-change: small enterprises big opportunities. Development of agri-food chains in the Molo river basin”, co-financed by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation. Thanks to the project, he was provided with three new hives and modern equipment for the collection and care of beehives. Joel was also able to get in touch with the Rabai honey refinery, which the same project realized during the first year.

The last time we visited, Joel had a total of twenty hives and production was going so well that with the proceeds he can now help his family and also make small investments in his business.

Beekeeping can be said to have changed Joel’s life, and he now has a wife, a son, and nurtures a dream of becoming a great beekeeper.

“I thank Mani Tese for supporting me – says Joel – in most cases we people with disabilities are invisible. Now I hope to improve my life and show everyone that disability is not inability!”

Below are some photos of Joel:

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