21-10-2020 by Freddie del Curatolo
At this time when global health fears seem to be concentrated on one disease because it is terribly contagious, people tend to forget those diseases that walk in silence and with a subtle but implacable daily suffering that will drag on for the rest of their lives. Diseases that are almost always congenital and almost never fatal, but which exclude thousands of children and young people from a normal existence and transform them into the true "last" of this Earth.
In Africa especially the physically and mentally disabled are considered wrong creatures, if not punished by God. They are often left to themselves, crawling and malnourished in villages, sometimes tied with ropes behind huts.
Until a few decades ago, on the coast of Kenya, nobody cared about them.
Fortunately, thanks to government projects also supported by international organisations, centres have been created and awareness campaigns have been launched.
For years we followed the praiseworthy and difficult work of the Special School of Gede, with contributions that were never sufficient, but also aid from donors, including many Italians.
Since 2007 there has also been a local association in Kilifi County, Kuhenza For Children, born from a rib of the American NGO Kupenda.
In Kenya, it is based in Gede and in the county it is active in about ten special schools, including the Kibarani School for the Deaf, the Sir Ali School for Mentally Handicapped in Malindi and the Gede Special School itself, which take care of children and young people with disabilities of all kinds.
The main objectives of the association are to create awareness in families with children with disabilities of the great potential that these children have and to accept and not discriminate against diversity. This is done through: raising awareness among the parents of disabled people and the local communities where the children live. Helping children to access school education by paying tuition fees, employing support teachers or other professional figures and purchasing school materials.
Providing special therapies with doctors or nurses, basic medicines as well as wheelchairs and other special material for those with more severe physical disabilities.
"Since last March - explains to Malindikenya.net the director of Kuhenza Leonard Mbonani - after the closure of the school due to the pandemic, we have continued to support and help "our children" by implementing a food distribution system (flour, beans, cassava and sanitizing soap) that every month has reached an average of 300 families spread on the territory of the County between Malindi and Magarini Costituencies".
In the office, which usually houses 5 employees, there are 10 people who every month call the parents of the 600 children in Kuhenza to check the physical and mental condition of both the children and the families.
During the distribution, psychological support is also given to families living in difficult economic conditions who not only have to take care of a child with physical problems, who usually lives in special schools, but also face this particular difficult period given by Covid.
In the case of serious health problems, Kuhenza has a car that is made available for transport to hospitals or emergency interventions.
Families and community members have become the operational arm in the field during this period, supervising and monitoring individual cases.
Unfortunately the pandemic has also slowed down the two existing projects in Kilifi County, which are the Farm in Mijomboni, 6 acres of land where about 300 casuarin plants have been planted to be used both for their own construction and to sell for self-sustainability, and about 2 acres of cassava which is distributed in the food programme.
The new Kuhenza headquarters will be built here with an office and a special wing for very serious disabilities requiring assistance 24 hours a day.
The other project, which we will discuss in detail later on, is the special Timboni school in Langobaya, which opened in January this year.
To date, two classes and a dormitory have been built for about children but the intention is to reach a total of 10 classes and add another dormitory to separate the boys from the girls. The network of donations started as usual from the American parent company, local institutions including the County Government and several private donors including the Rotary Club of Mombasa and a special Italian friend, Maurizio Beghelli from Milan who was one of the important benefactors of the Gede Special School and is now involved with Kuhenza in the Langobaya project. Beghelli through his initiatives called "Kipara For Kuhenza" is always active in Italy to give a decent life to the most denigrated and forgotten category in Africa and is proving to be fundamental, also through social channels, for food distribution.
What more serious and safe way to do this than through Kupenda, which currently operates worldwide, helping around 120,000 people, 60% of whom are children. In Africa and present with projects in Tanzania, Malawi and Sierra Leone.
Kuhenza would like to continue to guarantee at least the distribution of food until schools reopen, but funds are beginning to be scarce and hopefully some sponsors will intervene in December. If you want to make a contribution, you can join the initiatives of "K4K Kipara For Kuhenza" by visiting the homonymous facebook group at this link https://www.facebook.com/groups/349262675852170/?ref=share.
Or by sending an email to email@example.com
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