Scholarship Program for Persons with Disability

‘Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.’ These are the words said by a human rights activist, Malcolm X. Through education, can we hope to achieve social inclusion which Women Challenged to Challenge is an advocate of. One of the core values for WCC is promoting lives as well as bringing positive change to women and girls with disabilities. The scholarship program was initiated in order to bring awareness about disability as well as educate the generation on discrimination. Other reasons were to ease the burden on families who cannot support the children with disabilities. Leaving them behind would only stop the progress required for society to embrace disability and be open about the issues.

Sonia Scholarship Programme

The story of Sonia is only one of the children who have benefited from the scholarship program. She attends a school in Olkalau and is 8 years old. She was born with a rare case of severe flexion of the knees and club feet. Initially the hospital advised to amputate both legs after assessment. However, the reason her legs were saved was due to another condition called spinal bifida. The reason behind this is, the side effect which spinal bifida causes is impaired sensation; so the surgery would have made no positive impact on her lifestyle. The examination was conducted by Italian doctors who were volunteering.

This year the club feet were straightened and although the legs are not as straight as someone her age, she can have mobility unlike before. With the aid of crutches she can move and walk without assistance, at the same time the cast on her feet allowed better stability. The physiotherapist has been advising on her progress and the good news is that in time Sonia would be able to walk without crutches but with intensive physiotherapy. However, due to her condition her legs would not be proportional to her body as Sonia grows up.

Sonia & her Mum

Through the Olkalau rehabilitation centre did WCC discover Sonia and her story. The rehabilitation centre enables the children with disabilities to learn and provide a comfortable environment. The idea behind it is to achieve education whilst the children are recuperating from the surgeries. The centre are run by nuns, with parents able to bring children every September to alleviate the various conditions that the children have, through operation. However, the process requires an interview as well as an assessment from the Italian doctors. The examination allows the doctors to determine which children can be operated on. The following children who can be operated are contacted through their parents and thus the children are admitted.

In Sonia’s case, WCC paid for the school fees and the surgery was scheduled in Kinangop Catholic Hospital. This procedure was to straighten her legs out. After the procedure she is transferred to the rehabilitation centre to start attending classes as well as start the intensive physiotherapy. Once the child has completed the physiotherapy, they leave the rehabilitation centre to join another school. There are several reasons for this and one of them is to create room for other children who require surgery and needs a place to recuperate. The other important reason is to allow the child to go into a school where they can adapt and join a public school which would benefit them in fitting in with society.

Sonia & Maryann

In terms of her academic performance, Sonia is not detracted from her condition and from the teacher’s feedback she is very inquisitive. The school will also administer preparation to Sonia about Spinal bifida and the necessary bowel training required in future. This is to prepare for the time when she leaves the rehabilitation centre and be confident on handling her conditions.

This is one of many stories out in Kenya which the WCC have helped and would continue to do so. Providing education is a fundamental right for all beings and no child should be left behind due to their disability. Hopefully in time this issue would no longer exist in Kenya but there are still work to be done to achieve this goal.

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