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-up
capital; 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!