We are pleased that more volunteers from the UK have been able to visit our partner projects at the Disability Centre in Maua and Athi disability school recently – Hands Around the World recognises the importance of ongoing relationships, so that the support we can offer is led by our partner’s needs.
In August we had just started the process of seeking a sponsoring partner to enable the development of the Orthopaedic workshop and therapy room at the disability centre. We are delighted that we have now achieved three quarters of the funding needed, and are now only looking for the money to support the staff training element of the original proposal. Can you contribute towards the extra £5000 that is needed? We look forward to starting this initiative from next January.
We want, by our support, to help provide improved services to children with disabilities – whether they are living in their home communities or attending the disability school in Athi. As well as disability aids, the children need the opportunity to develop life skills which will support them in the future. We hope to promote income generating initiatives which will support the projects and give the children opportunities to learn new skills. How about sponsoring chickens, or a fish pool, so that the children can learn to care for the animals and earn an income too…..?
Two ‘Hands Around the World’ volunteers are currently based with the disability centre in the town of Maua and are spending time with our partner school at Athi and the disabled children. There is plenty of work to be done in supporting the work of the disability project, and the volunteers are also spending time with the women from the self-help project; this project aims to encourage women from poor backgrounds, with a disability themselves or a disabled relative, to save and invest in small local initiatives with the support of an Area Community Facilitator. In this way, mothers are able to develop small income generating projects and this helps to support the family and pay for children’s school costs.
One of the things the volunteers have already achieved is to create a short Kenyan Sign Language booklet. Local staff had identified a serious problem with of lack of communication between deaf children and the project staff,their parents and in their communities. This beginner’s guide can be circulated to help get people talking! For each word there is the Swahili, English, a symbol for those who can't read, as well as the sign.
HATW continues to support disabled members of the community, and is actively seeking a sponsoring partner to facilitate the development of an Orthopaedic workshop and to provide basic equipment for a therapy room. The core aim of this project is to enhance capacity and improve services to disabled children in the surrounding community – including those at Athi school - and to support ongoing therapy for those children.
The aim is to provide training for existing staff, and the opportunity for a new technician apprentice to be trained. Currently, the workshop is able to execute repairs and adaptations to existing mobility aids. Working with disabled children, there is a constant demand for new wheelchairs and aids as the children grow – these can be prohibitively expensive and continuing use of the inappropriate or out grown mobility supports can actually cause further harm. Developing the local provision would enable the correct ongoing support to disabled children as they grow, giving them the best potential for the future.
The centre already provides assessments of individual needs through outreach visits and family discussions, but lacks the resource to offer the range of solutions which may be life-changing.
Our commitment through HATW continues, and with access to adequate funding we hope to send a volunteer to support the workshop development and local outreach on a longer term placement.
Will you help us to achieve the funding necessary to jump-start the workshop development?
With the required initial investment, our local partners aim to use the workshop facility to provide some ongoing income as they are commissioned to provide equipment for children at local hospitals and clinics. In this way, they intend to finance ongoing community initiatives for the disabled.
Continuing our links with Athi school, HANDS AROUND THE WORLD plans to send two new volunteers to the school this summer. They will share their time between supporting the disabled children at the school and working with the disability centre at the nearby town of Maua.
Children attending the school stay in the dormitory and benefit from regular meals as well as basic educational support. Families must pay a basic fee for their children to attend, however this is often a challenge for low income families.
Funds which are donated to the school are used to provide additional resources, educational equipment and to supplement support staff costs. Having a dining and kitchen area (built by HATW volunteers) has been a great benefit, but there is still need for additional basic equipment for cooking and serving food.
Additionally, we would like to raise funds to equip an Orthopaedic workshop – just £500 to start this project. All this money will go to the partner project at the Disability Community Centre in Maua – for equipment, staff training in practical skills and a contribution towards helping children of the very poorest families by funding the necessary mobility equipment. The DCC works with children attending Athi school, providing regular therapy visits for children with long-term physical needs; please help us achieve this initial target to ensure that the children attending the school can have appropriate mobility aids.
Hands Around the World sends professional volunteers for short secondments to the Special School at Athi. Our latest physiotherapy volunteer to Athi school returned just before Christmas and commented:
“I enjoyed working with the children and feel that I was able to be of help. This was particularly so for Erik who had not been able to walk, as he had had jiggers and had been off his feet for months at home. I was able to organise boots and crutches for some of the children. Parallel bars would have been a great asset. There had been some in the past, but I was told that they were broken and there was no money to replace them. The children enjoyed their exercise sessions. I feel that I should have done more with them. Wheel chairs were in bad repair. I was able to get wheels replaced before I left.”
HATW works in partnership with the Disability Community Centre in Maua, where there is a rehabilitation team who work to support chiuldren with disabilities within their own community; the children’s practical needs can be assessed and appropriate help sourced – as in Erik’s case. As children grow, their equipment has to be replaced to continue to be useful.
The DCC team can identify, assess and measure for the most appropriate mobility aids, either making them in their own orthopaedic workshop or working in partnership with local manufacturers to make and supply items to the correct measurements.
In 2013, we would like to raise funds to help to better equip the orthopaedic workshop. We would like initially to raise the sum of £500 to start this project. All the money will be targeted to the DCC – for equipment, staff training in practical skills and a contribution towards helping children of the very poorest families by funding the necessary mobility equipment.
The DCC works closely with the children attending Athi school; this project will provide practical help to ensure that the school children who need mobility aids are able to access them from the therapy team, and their physical needs will begin to be addressed.
Please consider making a contribution to develop this important facility which will benefit disabled children in the North Meru district around Maua town.
Excellent news from Athi school! Following on from a visit earlier in the year, of a professional volunteer (physiotherapist) and the project co-ordinator, we have had news that great progress has been madetowards the completion of the school dining hall. The project, which had been initiated by HATW volunteers in response to a request from the school, had been awaiting completion for some time.
The Local MP on a visit to the school campus agreed that progress was needed, and presented a cheque from the community development fund which has allowed for the connection of electricity and water, as well as other steps forward.
The school has been waiting on water for years in order to connect up the washing facilities and toilets which had been built into the dormitory building (another HATW project), but lacked the funds to make this happen. It is such good news to hear that at last the children will have access to a more regular water supply!
HATW has also been able to forward funds to buy a modern Jiko ( cooker) which will be installed in the kitchen off the dining hall, as well as some money towards plates and porridge jugs for the children’s use.
The next visit will be that of another professional volunteer – again a physiotherapist, who will stay at the school for 3 months from November. We are also hoping to be able to equip a treatment room, so that the disabled children in the school can have access to regular therapy on site; this room would also provide a place for health checks to be held.
We are always looking for professional volunteers who can spend time supporting the school – ideally, special needs teaching staff, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. If you want to find out more, or volunteer, please contact HATW at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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