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.
There is nothing quite like waking at 6.00 a.m. to the sound of African children singing! When those are the voices of children resident at the disability school in Athi, the sound is extra special. These children have a wide variety of special needs and been referred to the school where they can live and learn, at their own achievement level, during school terms.
I was privileged to be there as project co-ordinator for Hands Around the World, who have been working to support the school over several years; my travelling companion was a specialist volunteer – a Physiotherapist – who was staying at the school for a 5 week placement, to work with the children and the local Disability Centre, from where many of the referrals are made. HATW has sent several specialists on placements to the school, as well as project teams who have built the dormitory and initiated the work on the dining hall block.
My remit was threefold – as well as accompanying a volunteer, I was there to meet with local partners, assess the status of previous HATW supported projects at the school (specifically the completion of the dining hall building and the sourcing of a water supply to the dormitory block) and make recommendations for future work.
HATW charity works to build lasting partnerships and long term solutions by working together to solve problems. How can we get a proper water supply to the school? – it only has a stand-pipe at the moment for all 103 children’s needs. How can we equip a therapy room and provide bars and aids, so that the children can continue to exercise and improve every day? The local MP works hard in the community, and met with me during my visit – he is committed to improving the school, but help is still needed from you, too...
Families of children at the school have to pay a nominal amount to cover food costs every term – not all parents are able (or willing) to pay, leaving the school regularly with the problem of raising funds for food. Now the school has achieved registration as a State school, but the limited financial support which is allocated per child is not enough to provide learning resources, especially the specialist equipment which is need for special needs children.
So how can you help? Donations are always valued, and go to meet the immediate needs of the school children; we’d like to encourage the development of some income generating initiatives, that would have the added benefit of equipping older students with skills for later life, like keeping chickens and selling eggs, but need the start-upcapital; funding school equipment – books, learning resources and games; providing outdoor climbing frames and parallel bars to develop balance and strengthen weak limbs. Or volunteer – share your skills and time! Contact HATW at email@example.com Maybe your business contacts could sponsor a bore-hole for the school, or would like to send a project team to build additional classrooms. Get in touch!
Thank you for taking time to read about Athi Special School! Your interest and involvement can make a difference to the lives of these children who, despite all the undeserved problems in their lives, manage to start the day with a song!
Just a quick note to keep you up to up to speed and let you know that Amy (physiotherapist) will be going shortly to Athi to help at with the children in the school. She will be staying until the end of June.
Amy will be traveling out with Heidi our project co-ordinator who will add a report here on her return at the end of May.
We're looking forward to hearing how they are all getting on, including of course Nelly who is due for her surgery at the beginning of June.
There are four key areas to explore in discussion on their visit to Athi. (Maybe others will also become apparent!) These are:
1 Dining hall/kitchen
2 The dormitory and its water supply,
3 Future volunteer help and
4 Provision options for supplying all-terrain wheelchairs.
Please watch this space!
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