Development Pamoja is a community based organisation working in the Rongai constituency in Kenya’s Rift Valley. We work with communities in and around the town of Mogotio. We started a disability program in the Mogotio area with funding from CASA in October 2012. When we started we focused on three villages – Athinai, Alphega and Lomolo. When we first started the program we had thirty four participants. In Kenya disability is still seen as taboo, some people believe that a disability is a curse on the family and chose to hide the disabled person as they regard them as shameful, so when we started people were reluctant to come and join the program.
However the program has grown steadily over the past two years and we now work with over one hundred people with various disabilities in five villages. The most common disability we see in these villages is cerebral palsy, due to the fact most people in rural Kenya still give birth at home with no assistance from trained medical personnel. Each Saturday we hold a social in one of the villages around the Mogotio area. In these socials we have fun activities for the children and hold educative forums for the adults. We also provide those present with a hot meal. We currently hold four socials a month to cater for people from these villages. We hold the socials on a Saturday afternoon, allowing the disabled person and their guardian attend.
Apart from the socials we help to meet the medical treatment costs of those we assist. Currently we cater for over twenty people to avail of physiotherapy on a weekly basis and we help over fifty individuals obtain medical assistance on a monthly basis. This medical treatment has greatly improved the quality of life of those we assist.
We also provide educational support to over twenty children. In some incidences we pay the full school fees and associated costs for children to receive an education and in other cases we assist the parents/ guardians to meet these costs, with the guardian also contributing financially to ensure the child goes to school. We provide educational support to both disabled children and the children of disabled parents.
In 2014 we as Development Pamoja started building a medical dispensary in the village of Sarambei where we also run a demonstration farm. The dispensary will be the first in Sarambei. Within the dispensary we are building a dedicated physiotherapy unit. Currently those we assist to avail of physiotherapy must go to the town of Nakuru to receive these services. For some people that entails a round trip of more than 120 kilometers travelling on foot, bicycles, motorbikes and buses on poor roads. When we open the dispensary complete with the physiotherapy unit it will be the first physiotherapy unit in our constituency. More importantly it will mean no person we assist will be more than twenty kilometers from receiving weekly physiotherapy.
The program has had a hugely beneficial effect on the communities we work with. It has improved the quality of life of people, it has enabled them to know their rights as a disabled person and it has helped to change the perception of disabled people within the villages we work.
All these services that we offer are made possible thanks to the kind assistance of the Caring and Sharing Association in Ireland and for that we are eternally grateful.
Development Pamoja is a registered Community Based Organisation in Kenya and a registered charity in Ireland, charity number 19370.