HISTORY OF CHEERFUL SPECIAL HOME
This programme was started in 2005 by two special education teachers.
These are Gladys and Margaret. They were following a case of a girl, "Caroline Wanjiru" who had mental challenges in Kirimukuyu location. They had learned of this particular girl from a Good Samaritan who had witnessed the problem she was undergoing.
Caroline was mentally challenged, had no mobility, speech and was hard of hearing. We found her to be very needy. She lived with her father as the mother had ran away leaving the girl behind. The two teachers used to visit the home in order to learn more about this girl. The father was not able to open up and talk freely about Caroline. It was much later that he was able to talk about his predicaments. This was after much guiding and counseling (Caroline has passed on)
In the process, we realized Caroline needed to be taken to a place where she could be given the necessary services. She was also growing up and being a girl and totally dependent, we found it odd that it was the father who was taking care of her. We decided to find a place where we could take her and take the responsibility of taking care of all her needs. However much we tried, we were not able to get her a place in the few special schools and even in other special institutions.
Not far from Caroline's home there was another child who had mental challenges and had never been taken to school. This was due to financial status of the family. We decided to follow the case and help the child.
In the process of follow-ups, we realized there were many more children within our division with mental challenges. We also noted that most parents were not aware of the assessment centers and even schools where they can take their children. This is when we decide to reach them in their homes.
During our visits, we encountered many severe cases of disabilities and the work load increased. We incorporated other professionals who would assist us to handle some of this cases beyond our knowledge as we reached out to many more children. We let them know that the work we were doing was just voluntary services which we were doing after work, weekends and during the holidays. All were willing to do this noble work of helping the disadvantaged. We formed "Cheerful special group".
To keep the program going, we started a merry-go-round. (Revolving money).The aim was to uplift ourselves financially and to get money which would help us run the program. Its from this project where we get money to buy medicine when the condition of a child gets out of hand. E.g. - Epileptic drugs, deworming drugs e.t.c. We also use the money as transport when trying to reach other parts which are in the interior.
During our visits we encountered problems leading to the suffering of this handicapped children e.g.;-
l Fear of stigmatization where most parents are forced to hide them
l Parents blame them selves as they think its due to witchcraft, curse from God and other myths.
l Lack of knowledge of therapeutical exercises
l Lack of information and ideals on how to bring up a child with special needs.
l Poor social; and economic status.
l Lack of appropriate devices to assist this children
l Over protection of the child that whatever talent the child has is suppressed
l Lack of awareness of causes and prevention of disabilities.
The objectives of the group were:-
l Guiding and counseling the parents, siblings and other family members to accept love and support the children as one of their own.
l Give therapeutical exercise to stimulate the remaining organs thus they may be active.
l Teach the family members on how to train the handicapped child to achieve self help skills which will make the child independent.
l Create awareness to the community on causes and prevention of disabilities.
This will help reduce the number of children with disabilities.
l Encourage the child to use any left ability to promote functional skills.
Late 2006, we realized the objectives of the group were not going to be fully achieved. Over the past two years, we had encountered so many challenges in our endeavor.
ü The work load had become too much to handle
ü The visits (Home program) had become too far apart as we had over fifty children to attend to.
ü Financial constraints due to large number of children.
ü Transportation to the most interior areas in our division.
The group sat down and deliberated on the way forward. They decided to set up a Home where children with mental challenges can be brought together in a central place where they can be reached with ease and
n Be given Individualized Education Program (I.E.P)
n Be given services by qualified personnel.
n Be given adequate and appropriate materials
n Be trained on skills that would help them be self reliant.
We have two programs:-
1. Home based
It covers the mentally Handicapped children whom we visit in their homes on rotational basics, our duty is to give guidance and counsel parents.
n Advice on nutrition and how to administer drugs as prescribed.
n Train parents on how to improvise some devices by using local materials
n Guide parents on how to train these children to feed, bathe, dress and toilet independently. (Those with severe challenges)
1. Vocational center
The other program is this vocational center. Here is where we translate our motto. "Mentally challenged are trainable". We have built the Home from our own pockets. W e pay the workers from our own meager salaries.
God willing, we intended to have a facility to house about one hundred and twenty (120) children (60 boys and 60 girls). It is not easy my dear friends, but we are determined we shall overcome;
Our prayer to God is to give us strength and hope to make this mentally handicapped children "CHEERFUL"
Like the woman in the Bible "The faith of the Canaanite woman, Mathew 15:28, our request will be granted."
May God bless you
Margaret N. Mugweru