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Traffic marshal on a child safety mission

Purity Mwaniki
Road safety champion Purity Mwaniki during an interview at Nation Centre on May 8. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL 

Purity Mwaniki, a business woman in the cosmetics and industry spends a typical day shuttling between the city centre for business and ensuring road safety for schoolchildren.

For a decade now, the soft-spoken mother of three has been at the forefront teaching parents and children on road safety. She is constantly on her smart phone receiving and give updates on matters happening on the roads which she can either address or raise with the authorities for swift action.

She is a volunteer with the Pamoja Road Safety Initiative.

A reflector jacket is one of her tools that comes in handy anytime she is on the road.

“My jacket is always close by because I may spot a child struggling to cross the road all alone. In such cases I grab it and ensure safety of the child. It is often a deadly game of chances because Kenyan drivers, often in a hurry, can apply brakes too little too late,” she adds.

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She draws inspiration from her second-born son (now deceased) who kept on pushing her to ensure schoolchildren from their estate (Imara Daima) went to school and came back safely.

“Walking my son to board the school bus across the road past some reckless drivers pushed me[ to volunteer]. My biggest motivation was seeing my son safe,” says Purity.

So far she has taken part in sensitising schools in Naivasha and Thika on child safety. She also takes the campaign to estates where she sadly admits that most parents do not pay much attention to how their children play exposing them to risks of being hit by motorists exceeding speed limits.

In 2014, she was part of the team that developed training manuals that teachers can use to teach children on road safety.

In the same year, three matatu saccos in Naivasha and two in Thika signed pledges to ensure their crew were at the forefront of enhancing safety on the roads following a campaign by Pamoja Road Safety Awareness.

Throughout the years, she says she has had to develop resilience to continue with the campaign which has sometimes cost her business. But she is quick she is quick to add that the foregone cost is well worth it.

Once she was forced to close her shop and rush to Kikuyu town to attend to a child who had been knocked down.

Unfortunately the child died but she was with the bereaved mother through every step of the grieving process.

“For me, seeing the innocent child die because of a reckless driver and knowing the pain of losing a child, it drove me further to undertake the campaigns on road safety.”

As she marks 11 years in her campaign to secure Kenyan roads, Purity is calling for an attitude change among motorists.

“We need to change our behaviours and attitude if we are to enhance safety on the roads,” she says.

Early this year she won a scholarship to study two-week course on road safety at Delft University in The Netherlands largely in recognition of her efforts. The university will pay 75 percent of her fees.

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