Kisumu Disabled Selfhelp Group
Odinga Oginga Street
Mildred Auma Odanga
Elvis Jowi, Nehemiah Otieno, wesley Osio
Joseph Omondi, Mildred Odanga, John Kutna, Phenny Akoth, Triza Anyango, Caren Anyango
To involve people with disabilities in activities that promotes dignity and well being through engaging them in advocacy, information dissemination and socio - economic empowerment programmes
Our organization works on programs that mainly focus on civic education and awareness, community health, social entrepreneurship and income generating projects. We mainly target people with disabilities. In our HIV prevention projects, we train youth peer educators to conduct peer education outreaches within the community. Other strategy we use as HIV prevention measures are community dialogue forums in which we mobilize community to come together with people with disabilities to discuss issues that increase HIV prevalence rate among this category of citizens with the purpose of finding a collective and lasting local solutions. Our voluntary counseling and testing forums is used to mobilize people with disabilities and the community at large to learn from each other on issues to do with HIV prevention, care and support. during these forums, participants are voluntarily counseled and tested for HIV, trained on proper condom use and condoms/ IEC materials are also distributed. Sports for mass mobilization and outreaches is one of the strategies that has worked well for us. Our beneficiaries are people with disabilities who suffer low self esteem due to their disability and this increases their vulnerability to HIV infection. This is because non disabled people take advantage of this to exploit them sexually. We therefore use sports to mobilize both disabled and non disabled youths to participate in sports together. During these sporting events, they mingle freely with each other and are able to discover their talents and potentials. Local exchange visits is very important for experience sharing and learning form each other. We have been able to learn new income generating activities and also find new donors through exchange programmes. We are also able to share resources with the organizations that we collaborate with and this has reduced our expenditure.
During our peer education outreaches, we learnt that human rights abuse against people with disabilities play a big role in their vulnerability to HIV infection. We learnt that because of their lack of knowledge on their rights as citizens, they get exploited not only sexually but also economically. In our HIV prevention strategy, we also train people with disabilities on human rights awareness in relation to health.
One very important lesson that we learn during our community work is that poverty is a major set back in fight against HIV among people with disabilities. For us to sustain our HIV prevention projects, we had to incorporate economic empowerment programmes. We therefore started focusing in social entrepreneurship. We assess our targeted beneficiaries, train them in business planing and management skills, technical skills through apprenticeship, take them trough mentor ship programme then provide them with loans to start businesses. This has seen 60 people with disabilities trained and accessing loans and their living standards have changed to better.
We also work with special school through formation of health clubs. We train pupils as peer educators and equip them with information that enables them to continue education each other on issues of HIV prevention and human rights. We work closely with school teachers and parents in order to get support and sustain the health programmes in schools. Through the teachers and parents, we are also able to identify neglected children with disabilities and ensure that they get the basic needs like food, clothing, shelter and education. We do this with the help of our collaborators.
We also partner with Crutches 4 Africa, an organization that focuses in collection of mobility devices from willing donors then ship them to Africa for free distribution. We have been able to donate very good and strong mobility devices to deserving citizens and this has strengthened our relationship with the community.
Stigma and discrimination in any form is a big disgrace to the community. Many people still show this kind of vice to their fellow human beings and this has resulted in many suicides and loss of hope in life of the affected. People with disabilities and people living with HIV experience stigma and discrimination nearly every day. Unless this is addressed, we will continue to have brilliant minds and capable people resort to substance and drug abuse. We as an organization took an initiative of addressing this issue through our project that mobilizes the community against stigma and discrimination. We trained opinion leaders and elders on anti stigma and discrimination campaign because we believe that they are the game changers since the community respect them and will be willing to learn from them. They reach out to their audience with the relevant messages and this has seen a 40% reduction of cases of stigma and discrimination.