Pio Gama Pinto

Report from MSJC Community Dialogue on Disability – March 31st 2018

On March 31st MSJC organized a Community Dialogue on Disability which was attended by forty people. Below a recap of Mathare’s first community dialogue on disability.

In Mathare there are an estimated 300 persons living with disabilities of different types. Many of them are unregistered and face dire situations living in the slums of Mathare. On this day five speakers were present, who addressed the challenges that people with disabilities in Mathare face and did recommendations on how some of these issues may be faced.

The first speaker was Joan Njoki from MSJC, who herself has a son that suffers from Celebral Palsy. Joan discussed the different forms of disabilities, ranging from physical to intellectual, visual, oral and developmental. These disabilities can come in mild, moderate, severe or profound forms, which all comes with different challenges. In order to give sufficient help, it is crucial for people to be informed and to know what specific disability they or their child suffer from. A main goal of this dialogue was to broaden this knowledge. Furthermore, Joan addressed the main challenges that accompanies disability, such as housing, transport,  education ,employment, reproductive health issues and a lack of income generating projects for the disabled. Besides that there is a lack of diapers for children and adults, as well as medicines and orthopedic devices. The disabled are in desperate need of therapy, but the places that offer therapy or daycare are not available or reachable for everyone. On top of that many people with a disability face stigmatization within and outside the community.

However, there are some institutions that can provide therapy and nutrition for the disabled, which were also addressed during this dialogue. Therapy and nutrition is provided by German doctors in Baraka, St. Mollas in Mathare North, Salama primary school, Mathare hospital and St. Francis in Kariobangi. Ongoing therapy (also at home) and good nutrition is important, while it can relieve pain and  prevent more severe complaints and worsening of the disability. It is key that people are aware of the importance of therapy and nutrition and the places where it is provided.

The second speaker was Muriuki from Salama Primary Special Unit. He discussed some of the causes of disabilities and did recommendations on how to reduce the chance of a disability or the worsening of a disability. Causes may be found pre-birth, but also after the birth of the child. Pre-birth causes may be found in the (old) age of the mother, conditions during the pregnancy (such as drinking alcohol or bad nutrition) and insufficient care given to the mother during the pregnancy. However, a disability can also have a genetic cause. A disability may also occur after birth, for instance when a sick child is neglected and healthcare is not sought in time. If a disability is not managed properly the conditions can get worse. Muriuki also emphasized that awareness of disabilities is important. Parents should be aware of the conditions and need to manage the disability better through seeking timely medical care.

Besides that, Muriuki informed the people on institutions which provide special education for people with a disability. Such as City primary (Autism), Parklands primary and Heidemarie (Celebral Palsy), Muthaiga primary (Blind), Salama (Mental disability/Down syndrome) and special school (Mental problems).

Our third speaker was Cecilia, a social worker from the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya (APDK). Cecilia addressed how people with a disability should register with the government. When this is done, people can apply for subsidies and other forms of support (such as orthopedic support, walking aid or education subsidies) from the government. Again, Cecilia highlighted the importance of knowing what your kid is suffering from, good nutrition and ongoing therapy sessions.

Our next speaker was Liz Waithera. She informed us about the Mathare day centre, which opened on the 3rd of April. This centre offers, among other things, day care services for children with disabilities. Moreover, they aim for economic empowerment for adults through an arts and music program. If someone for instance produces art, the Mathare day centre can help them market it and help you to eventually make some money out of it.  The Mathare day centre is open every week, from Monday until Friday.

Last but not least, Lucy Kabura from Rural Aid Kenya spoke about the possibility to receive higher education, partly funded by the government. There is a special consideration for people with disabilities, so they can also benefit from this option. There is also the possibility of distance learning, where you only register and pay for the exams. This can be an outcome for people with a disability, while for them it may be impossible to go towards the campus.

It can be concluded that it was a fruitful community dialogue in which many useful things have been discussed. On behalf of MSJC we would like to thank everyone who partook in this informative dialogue. MSJC dreams of an integrated and informed society and through these forums we hope to reach as many people as possible and to grow with each gathering.

Thank you for your solidarity! See some pictures below from this dialogue on disability

Joan Njoki, Jonte and Hugo

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