Think of it. A child with special needs. As a parent what next? Is there a future? What would happen to my child if am gone? Yes. At Vision Africa we work with parents to prepare children with special needs for school. Early intervention is the way to go to help children with special needs reach their full potential. It’s the joy of parents to see their children becoming self-reliant. This is a journey which starts with a step such as toileting, grasping items, chewing, dressing, walking, dribbling, playing, and participating in social events ….. …..and the list is endless.
I joined Vision Africa as the Special Needs Programme officer four months ago. My desire was to support parents of children with Special needs set goals for their children`s future and support them reach their full potential. I realized that more underlying issues to deal with were on the way after interacting with the community leaders and local networks.
My background in community work led me to start from known to unknown and therefore I was introduced to the parents of children with Special needs at Kirunguru and Percy Davies Special schools which are both Vision Africa partners. This resulted to community entrance as more than ten cases were referred to me in less than one week and this has created referrals from various areas in Murang’a County some of which are not within Vision Africa target areas.
I have been conducting home visits to follow up on cases referred to me and in most cases I spend hours with parents discussing independent living and educational matters concerning their children. Visiting these homes requires a lot of patience and ‘a heart of gold’ as some parents/caregivers have no hope for children with special needs under their care and thus require a lot of understanding. Sometimes it takes up to three visits for me to create rapport with families that are in denial especially the ones that have even secluded their child/children from the society.
It’s amazing receiving a smile from the children I work with whenever I meet them some of whom already refer me as their teacher. Supporting and giving hope to children with special needs and their caregivers gives me self fulfilment at the end of each day and its real that Vision Africa gives a child a future while at a personal level am grateful to God that am touching a life. Am glad that Vision Africa is very supportive as some of the preschool outreach programme cases require immediate medical attention, assistive devices, referral and advice that have been accorded where necessary.
Special thanks to Kirunguru and Percy Davies Special schools team (parents and staff) for their good work in supporting children reach their full potential, and encouraging me to reach out to those out of school through Vision Africa preschool Programme that has also resulted to parents support group.
As I continue working with the community, am also looking forward for Vison Africa to partner, collaborate and networks with various stakeholders in order to reach out to more children with special needs and their families in order to transform their lives.
By Alice Macharia
Special Needs Programme Officer