“The Kenyan government should help communities learn to love and care for disabled children”

Disabilities Voices 4
The Total Rehab Centre looks after children with disabilities (Faith Ocharo)

Barriers to education, Children with disabilities, Discrimination of marginalised children, Right to education, Teachers and learning

An early childhood development advocate talks about the problems that children face in accessing education or just being accepted.

Did you know that in every 20 families, in most communities worldwide, there is one that has a disabled child?

In an African set-up, especially in Kenya’s slums, where a couple has such a child, one spouse – usually the male – will often flee and leave the mother to cater for the needs of the child.

Some will hide the child in their homes so that people will not know that they have a child with a disability. 

The most painful factor is that the government has not set aside funds for such cases. A good example is that in 80% of primary and secondary schools there are no special toilets for children who are disabled.

The government should create awareness for communities in marginalised places so that they learn to love and care for such children – instead of casting out the mothers and children, thinking the family is cursed.

Total Rehab Centre is a non-profit community-based organisation registered by the ministry of gender, children and social development. 

The director of the organisation is Teresia Njeru, a lady in her thirties who has dedicated her life to helping disabled children who are brought by parents.

In some cases, the children are abandoned in communities. The centre has children from six to 32 with different conditions from cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, spina bifida and sensory integration disorder.

Disabilities Voices 2

Many of the children are brought to the centre by their parents (Faith Ocharo)

There are many communities in Kenya who have not yet accepted disabled children and hence they run away or abandon the children once they are born.

This is not the right move since the children are abled differently. With awareness from the government and in conjunction with the private sector, these children can be taken to school and given the right care like therapy and medicine.

Teresia says the government should provide free primary education for disabled children since they are not different from other children who are provided primary education 

Once the government chips in to support disabled children, they stand a chance to participate in the growth of Kenya. Many of them are talented and have potential – they just need mentors.

The other thing the government can do is provide a medical practitioner, since it is expensive to have a doctor full-time in all counties to cater for the needs of disabled children.

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