Help Kenyan children with disabilities into school

by HANDS AROUND THE WORLD
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Help Kenyan children with disabilities into school
Help Kenyan children with disabilities into school
Help Kenyan children with disabilities into school
Help Kenyan children with disabilities into school
Help Kenyan children with disabilities into school
Help Kenyan children with disabilities into school
Help Kenyan children with disabilities into school
Help Kenyan children with disabilities into school
Help Kenyan children with disabilities into school
Help Kenyan children with disabilities into school
Help Kenyan children with disabilities into school
Help Kenyan children with disabilities into school
Help Kenyan children with disabilities into school

There is a lot going on with our partners at the Disability Community Centre (DCC) in Maua, and the two disability schools with whom HATW works.

The DCC had two HATW volunteers visiting for three weeks in June; they worked alongside the DCC team and also in the school in Athi and their visit has made a great impact. We hope to send round their report shortly. The DCC staff team have also benefitted from receiving ongoing training.

In Athi school, the three new classrooms have now been completed; there is still work to be done, however, to improve water and sanitation as well as to provide equipment and furniture.

At Irindiro school, there is a plan for the work that is to be done. The water supply has been installed and the dormitory renovation work is to be completed during the school holidays in August. A carpenter has begun work on making 22 beds for the children and 34 mattresses with waterproof covers will be purchased from Meru town which will be sufficient for all the beds.

The next stage will be to start work on building a new classroom and a security fence to make sure the children cannot wander outside the school grounds. All these improvements will make such a difference to everyday life and learning at the school! There is still a shortage of specialist learning equipment, desks and chairs as well as basic paper, pencils, educational toys and musical instruments which would develop the skills of the disabled children who attend the school.

What could you do to help? Have you time to spend as a volunteer working in our partner projects? Or could you raise funds for special learning equipment? Please donate on line, or contact HATW if you would like to volunteer.

We are also looking forward to Oliver the DCC project manager’s visit in September; we hope to arrange a number of visits to local disability centres as well providing a wider experience of life in the UK. Hopefully he will make new contacts and we may be able to encourage other professionals to visit as professional volunteers to share their skills.

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Children in Irindiro classroom
Children in Irindiro classroom

The work to support Irindiro school is the current priority in our partnership with the Disability Community Centre.

HATW has been successful in identifying and applying for funding for these priority areas:

  • completing the dormitory building and providing beds and mattresses for all the resident children

  • extending electricity and water supplies to the school

  • providing security fencing so that children don't wander off the school premises

  • Funding for a new classroom

However, this will only provide basic essentials for the school and its 45 resident children. We now need to raise further funds to:

  • equip the new classroom with desks

  • provide specialist learning resources for the children e.g. the group of hearing impaired children

  • provide kitchen equipment and eating utensils

Is this something which you would be able to support? We are setting a new funding target of £2,000 specifically for these items for Irindiro special school.

We have some volunteers going to visit the project this month. They will spend time with DCC and in the special disability schools with the children.

Could you offer time or special skills and go to work with our partners?

If you are interested, please contact: david@hatw.org.uk

We are also looking forward to a UK visit from the DCC project manager - we hope to link him with local projects in the South Wales are to extend his experiences and to help him build links with other disability professionals here.

Irindiro classroom
Irindiro classroom
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Children learning at Irindirho School
Children learning at Irindirho School

Following up from our October visit to Maua, we have been busy trying to progress some of the initiatives that were highlighted in our discussions.

We were particularly moved by the need that we saw at Irindirho school and we are seeking funding to address some of the bigger challenges, especially extending the electricity and water supplies from the adjacent primary school to the special unit and providing fencing for the special school to prevent the disabled children from wandering and getting lost.

The new dormitory has been built with local community development funding, but the building needs finishing and furnishing.

Children share the few beds that are available across the boys’ and girls’ dormitories; not all of the beds have mattresses....

A corner of the girls’ dormitory has been sectioned off to provide a tiny classroom area for the 12 hearing impaired children who have special learning needs.

The lovely children at Irindirho school gave us such a warm welcome and were delighted with the small number of toys and games that we could bring with us.

Your donations will help us provide waterproof mattresses, bedding or toys for these children?

At Athi school, the work on the new classrooms is progressing and we hope to see all three completed and in use by March

Further visits are expected, with two volunteers planning a three week placement in June, working with DCC and its partners. Their special skills include special need teaching, management and training experience; we are working with Oliver Kirimi, the manager of the DCC, who will be arranging their programme visit so that they can make the most useful contributions whilst they are there.

Do you have special skills which you could share on a project visit? Contact info@hatw.org.uk

We are keen to encourage Oliver Kirimi by linking him with similar disability support projects in the UK. We hope this will provide new ideas which can be adapted for use by the DCC, and new contacts to provide encouragement and partnership exchanges. The DCC needs additional workshop equipment and Oliver would also welcome advice on sourcing the most suitable resources for the project. We are therefore planning towards Oliver making a 2 week visti to HATW and partner projects in Wales in July 2017.

Please join us in whatever way you can to make a difference for these disabled children, their opportunities are so limited currently!

Heidi Sydor

New Dormitory
New Dormitory
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Special children with special needs
Special children with special needs

It was a real pleasure to visit the DCC in Maua and Athi School in October. I travelled with Heidi Sydor my sister. The journey was trouble-free and we even saw a number of elephants along the way!

Oliver Kirimi the manager of the DCC met us at the bus station in Maua and spent the week with us introducing us to various people and projects and talking about the work.

I was constantly mindful of my wish with HANDS AROUND THE WORLD to apply the principle of 'going deeper rather than broader' in order to make a significant lasting difference in the lives of the children.

I was concerned to discuss the high incidence of children born with disabilities - especially cerebral palsy - and the reasons for this; with Heidi we have discussed seeking a research project possibility.

We also discussed

  • the possibility of helping set up a sheltered workshop for school leavers with disabilities, to maximise their potential

  • the options around finding foster care for some children outside term time

  • a possible exchange visit in 2017

  • further equipment needed

I was struck again by the dire circumstances in which many people live, the remoteness of their homes and their very limited access to help, transport, special education etc.

The DCC building is looking much better since the recent work done through our supporters to help develop it. The physio treatment room is enlarged and better equipped, has child friendly murals and is a much brighter place. The workshop is improved but some of the equipment has to be used outdoors which is not ideal. Another workshop in the community might be a future option. Two pieces of equipment, a router and a suction machine (for making prostheses) have been requested.

We then went to Athi School and met Esther the head who had come in specially in spite of her father having died just 2 days earlier. The school looks good, there is running mains water although the storage tank tap leaks. The therapy room looks well finished but is very sparsely furnished with just 3 mattresses and no equipment. We talked at length about DCC physio input (once a month) for training and encouraging mothers and teachers to massage and stretch limbs etc.. The will is there and we hope that the people on the ground will carry out regular (daily) therapy.

Ann the 11 year old rescued by our recent physio volunteer Caroline has settled in well and is doing fine, although there are concerns over her care during holidays. (Esther takes some of the children home with her when she is worried about them)

The jewellery-making occupational therapy is doing well and we bought some items to bring back and sell. One small boy also showed me a functioning wooden torch he had made!

We were able to access a grant to construct new classrooms and this is under way, although the builder has been in hospital with a serious bout of malaria and there are some consequent delays. Now back at work; the first classroom is up to lintel height, one other has foundations and slab in, but the other is not started yet.

Esther is keen to be in in January which is a bit optimistic!

The next day we visited several special needs children at home – some disturbing cases. One with cerebral palsy had a very young mum who seemed to have no idea of the diagnosis or implications, was very needy herself and had never brought the child for assessment. Why would she go when she was so naïve and bewildered? How would she get there?

We met a 7 year old boy described as being unable to speak who could hear, but didn't respond appropriately; he had multiple untreated skin worm infections. He urgently needs pediatric assessment, not least to explore possible psychological overlay - an abuse victim?

Another boy, a little older, was also not speaking although he was obviously bright and able to understand. He could say 'mum' appropriately when prompted. He avoided eye contact and hid from nearby children coming to check out all the excitement! Another abuse victim?

On the way back to the DCC the 4x4 broke down. After battling through all the arduous terrain, several wheel nuts had worked loose and 2 bolts had sheared - the front driver's wheel was barely attached! We hobbled back with only about 2 out of 6 wheel nuts per wheel... Arriving in Maua at dusk, the market was very lively as new street lamps had just been erected throughout.

I was keen to buy some merchandise to bring home to sell on our market stall and found some wonderful things sold by a couple of Somali ladies.

On our last day, a bank holiday, the staff came in for a very interesting feedback meeting. Oliver Kirimi is very keen to be the first exchange visitor and I hope we can get him a visa to come for a few weeks next June-July.

We returned in the shuttle (express minibus) to Nairobi and had a surprisingly uneventful puncture. Several other minibus drivers stopped to offer assistance, jack and spare wheel when it became apparent that our spare was not only bald but flat. Everyday life in Africa...

A very interesting, busy and challenging week! Thank you very much for your support and encouragement. Please don't stop now!

DCC Physio treatment room
DCC Physio treatment room
Athi treatment room is very sparsely furnished
Athi treatment room is very sparsely furnished
The boy with his wonderful wooden torch!
The boy with his wonderful wooden torch!
Athi new classrooms rising
Athi new classrooms rising
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We are looking forward to our delayed visit to the DCC and Athi school - David Steiner and I should be with our HATW partners in about two weeks to see how the work of the Disability Centre has progressed over the last months. We hope to see great strides in the therapy work and the activity of the improved workshop, supplying disability aids to the families in the Maua area. 

We also plan to visit the school at Athi to see the new classrooms being built, and will be working to identify areas for future development in partnership, as well as potential opportunities for volunteer placements.

Both DCC and the school at Athi have benefited from the experience and commitment of short term professional volunteers - physiotherapists, occupational therapists and teachers for children with a wide range of learning of physical disabilities could offer so much in a 2 or 3 month placement, supported by the HATW charity.

Have you ever considered sharing your skills and expertise in this way? We'd love to hear from you!

Contact info@hatw.org.uk to find out how you could help.

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HANDS AROUND THE WORLD

Location: MONMOUTH, MONMOUTHSHIRE - United Kingdom
Website:
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Project Leader:
Bridget Higginson
Monmouth, Monmouthshire United Kingdom
$5,082 raised of $9,421 goal
 
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