Finding colour in a world which just seems so extra fixated on serving bleakness, coming right at you with a vengeance from every angle is no doubt super tough. It takes sheer grit, willpower and perhaps a whole lot more to rise above all Sitawa Wafula has been dealt with, but, amazingly this spirited queen decided to look at the brighter side and has since lived a meaningful life filled with purpose. She is founder, Kenya’s first mental health hotline.
The three-time award winning mental health and epilepsy crusader and blogger at age 17 was diagnosed with both epilepsy and bipolar disorder, she had to deal with the menace of stigmatization and even lost her job after a seizure, but even at that, fate wasn’t through yet, as an undergraduate she got raped, depressed and tired of it all, she decided to drop out of school.
It was a harsh world with no succor in sight, but Sitawa, rather than wallow in self-pity wondering “Why me,” decided to brave up, face reality squarely, find colour and therefore purpose; being raped and living with epilepsy and bipolar disorder, would not mean her end. As an outlet of documenting her daily struggles, the Lancaster based Kenyan social entrepreneur and activist embraced the blogging world.
Her blogging later caught Google Africa’s eye, emerging winner of its Africa Connected competition, she was therefore awarded the $25,000 prize, that money she used to start My Mind My Funk.
Sitawa Wafula, living a life in dedication to others in hope of removing stigma and offering support, keying from her personal experience in 2013 founded My Mind, My Funk – a mental health social enterprise that freely provides people in Africa and those in the diaspora with mental health support. Kenya’s first free mental health support line, an initiative of the activist and crusader applaudably supported over 11,000 Kenyans in its first year. Through it, People text in for free for inquiries but in desperate situations a therapist to speak with is immediately available.
Sitawa’s amazing work has been featured in Kenyan and international media outlets – BBC, PRI, Guardian Nigeria & NPR.
A proud recipient of awards such as Google Africa Connected Winner in 2014, 2013 Activist of the Year and 2013 East Africa Youth Philanthropist, the social activist has been listed among Women Leading Africa, Top 50 most impactful global social innovators,Top 42 African Innovators to watch, Top 40 under 40 women, Kenya.
Sitawa Wafula is a Senior Fellow at Aspen Institute’s New Voices Fellowship, a public speaker who has graced TED talks, the UN General Assembly among others. She currently serves as a member of the Strategic Group on Health at Africa- Europe Foundation, an initiative of Brussels based think tank – Friends of Europe.