Group takes bold step in helping disabled children
12 September 2014, 10:39
Nairobi - It is estimated that almost three million people in Kenya have disability and despite the country having a Disability Act enacted in 2003, much is yet to be done to see this Act fully implemented.
In Kawangware on the outskirts of Nairobi, a youth group calling itself Karama has taken the initiative of helping children with disabilities in the community.
“Watoto Pamoja initiative is meant to bring children who are disabled and those who are not together so they can learn how to cope with one another without feeling the difference between them. This was meant to make the disabled children in the society feel needed and appreciated,” Boniface Kahuhia, the chairperson of Karama Youth Group says as he explains one of the group’s initiatives.
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Initially, the project was started by Kawangiki Group in 2007, but due to the rising number of disabled children they had in that centre they decided to involve other youth groups to take up the initiative.
Currently, they have six centers for the disabled in all Kawangware sub-locations including Riruta location, which are working on the same project.
“With the Group, we have managed to teach other people the different types of disabilities since some communities have different beliefs about disabilities,” he said.
Kahuhia adds that for this project to work, they had to involve other people in the community whom they call Voluntary Outreach Counselors, who are basically the elderly people in the community, parents and youths who are well trained on the different types disabilities.
The group is also involved in educating parents with disabled children on how to handle them and linking them with service providers who provides them with the right equipment for each disability.
Karama has also partnered with government organizations like Kenya Institute for Special Education, African Physical Disability of Kenya (APDK) and Kenya Society for the Blind who assist the group with education for the disabled and issuance of walking sticks and canes.
“Before this initiative started, most disable children were locked indoors but now most of them are out and mingling with the other children and it is improving their self esteem,” he narrates.
So far, they have helped 210 disable children in their centre.
Kahuhia says that they have learnt that the children with disability have no problem with interacting with other children noting that their parents are the ones who oppose such interactions.
“Sometimes parents deny their children chance to attend such facilities since they feel like it’s an embarrassment to them and are also afraid of how the society will perceive them.”
When such situations happen, Kahuhia adds, the youth group involves the authorities and children paralegals talk to the parents.
The major challenge faced by these groups is poverty since most of the children come from poor families and the best the group can do is to link with institutions which assist them with education and equipment.
Kahuhia urges the government to assist parents of disabled children with school fees since most of them cannot afford the fees charged in special institutions.
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