Athi School Children and Staff
My trip to see family in Nairobi recently allowed me to visit the DCC and Athi school in order to see how the HATW projects are progressing. The last time I visited Maua was in January 2015 when the DCC director Oliver K was relatively new in his post. It was very good to see him again, now married and living locally. Oliver seems to be well established in his job but some other members of staff at the DCC have changed.
I had a good talk with Oliver about the DCC generally, including about who else supports them apart from HATW. The main donors are the Methodist Church and German NGO Kindernothilfe, with others including a Dutch NGO who focus on helping children in different projects across Kenya. I also talked to Francis G the government educational welfare officer who visits twice a week. He says that in the North Meru area awareness among parents and families of the importance for disabled children attending schools and therapy sessions has increased significantly over the last 5 years. Overall the DCC has quite a positive feeling about it.
HATW has provided skill-sharing short-term volunteer occupational and physiotherapists, Speech and Language Therapists and others, as well as funds for alterations to the therapy room, for extending the orthopaedic workshop and purchasing some new machinery including a plastic moulding kiln. The therapy room alterations are completed with a new doorway into the back of the workshop and fully decorated with fresh murals on the wall. It had looked a very cluttered space when we visited in 2015 but is now much improved. The new workshop machinery is all in use and a new 3 phase electricity supply has recently been installed. The storage area is much tidier. The one thing that has not progressed so far however is the workshop extension.
I asked Oliver what other things were needed at the DCC for the future and he mentioned a back-up generator as they have so many power cuts. It would need to be large enough to power the workshop machinery. He also suggested 2-3 laptops for the staff, as they only have one means of internet access. Oliver felt it would be very helpful for the web site and crowd funding applications. There is talk of creating a sub-office with therapy room at Miathene (?) half way from Maua to Meru, in order to reduce travelling time for the therapists to that area. This would involve purchasing land and putting up new buildings, which could include a larger workshop replacing the existing one in Maua.
The DCC has recently been donated 50 boxes of wheelchairs by Bristol-based UK charity Motivation for distribution among their clients. These are in a range of sizes and include conventional push type and manually operated cycle chairs. The cycle type are efficient and very much lighter than a timber model the DCC showed us last year.
I spent one day out with Oliver and the orthopaedic technician on visits. First stop was a home visit to deliver artificial limbs and a walking frame for a 2 year old with both legs amputated above the knee.
Then on to Irindiro Primary School located in a hilly area surrounded by tea plantations. We were welcomed and shown round by the friendly and caring headmaster. The school has a special unit for disabled children, staffed by 2 teachers. They have around 45 children officially on the register, but on our visit only 23 were in school. The unit occupies a single building divided into dormitories for girls and boys and with one quarter partitioned off for a classroom. There are only about 5 beds for the boys and 4 for the girls so these have to be shared by the children and the foam mattresses are extremely thin. Very basic facilities and an obvious need for more resources in the unit. We brought a sack of maize and another of beans with us for the children’s meals - these were very gratefully received as the unit was just running out of food and would have been forced to send everybody home in a couple of days time.
We then went on to Athi Special School where the great news is that a permanent water supply has finally been connected to the storage tank and two outside stand pipes. The therapy room has been completed and painted and is being used - the OT and physio were due to make their regular visit the following day. The recent builder seems to have done a good job. Work was also in progress during our visit on the base for the new classrooms.
Esther the headmistress has recently purchased a calf so that they can have a source of milk, and intends to replace the pig she had bought and which sadly died. She is looking for more funds for this and for getting chickens. Generally, everything seems to be going well at the school.
Thank you for your help and support for these lovely children, carers and families!
Oliver in the newly refurbished DCC Therapy Room
Athi School new Classrooms' Foundations
Athi School Therapy Room completed
DCC Operations HQ