It is estimated that there are three million people living with disabilities in Kenya. While organisations exist to promote the rights of people with disabilities in Kenya, in everyday life they still experience many challenges.
Development Pamoja is a small charity working in Kenya’s Rift Valley, in the districts of Mogotio and Rongai. In Mogotio there are many people living with disabilities, and in many cases these people are hidden from the public. Some people in Kenyan society see those living with disabilities as a burden, some even see them as a curse. In August 2012, following a visit from CASA members in Ireland, Development Pamoja entered into a partnership with CASA to assist those living with disabilities in the Mogotio district.
This program began in October 2012 and we currently assist disabled people in four villages in the Rongai and Mogotio districts. We assist approximately thirty disabled people. This assistance takes the form of facilitating transport costs to various hospitals in Kenya, covering the costs of medical care and actually assisting people to receive care in hospitals.
Apart from assisting members of the program with medical care we also run monthly socials in each of the program villages. These socials are mirrored on those run in Ireland. We invite disabled children and adults to the social and cook them a hot meal. We also invite a volunteer to accompany the disabled person. At the socials we encourage interaction between the volunteers and the disabled persons. The socials are a good way for people to get together share experiences and have a proper meal.
Finally we also implemented small projects for individuals within the program. For instance in October 2012 we purchased a water tank for the family of a boy who suffers from cerebral palsy and in November we provided the capital for another member of the program to start a small bicycle repair shop.
The project is still in its infancy but has so far proved successful. We are constantly identifying new disabled cases, where families originally did not wish to take part in the program but now see the benefits of attending the socials. The program is not just assisting the disabled in the Mogotio district; it is also helping to change how the community perceive people living with disabilities.