103 children attend Athi Special School (38 have a mental disability, 4 are hearing impaired and 61 are physically disabled). Many more are hidden at home due to stigma and ignorance. The school is part of North Meru DCC, a wider project to help children with a wide range of disabilities, work with families and increase community awareness of disability issues.
Many children with disabilities are hidden from view due to prevailing local attitudes and perceptions. Children with remediable and manageable conditions are often not being presented for treatment. Parents need to be encouraged to seek advice and help, taught coping strategies and offered ongoing support. In this poor rural community with hilly terrain, difficult access and poor transport options, it is often the cost which limits what can currently be achieved.
So far we have helped build a dormitory able to accommodate up to 80 children (40 boys and 40 girls) with special needs, and a wheelchair-friendly dining hall. With the help of experienced short-term volunteer professionals and some funding support, we are now encouraging Athi to develop its work, provide training for staff and help more children more effectively. Some need expensive surgery and/or equipment - we aim to help identify needs and enable solutions to be found and implemented.
Improving facilities, staffing levels. training, equipment and resources enable the project to develop and help not just those children attending Athi School, but others in the community. The educational outreach aims also to benefit future generations.
This project has provided additional documentation in a Microsoft Word file (projdoc.doc).