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Coast lobby group warns parents against hiding disabled children

The Coast Association for Persons Living with Disability organisation has warned parents against hiding children with physical disabilities under the pretext of saving the family’s face from the public.

The organization’s executive director Hamisa Zaja said that such acts of discrimination must not be allowed and that the affected children must be assured better living conditions.

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Speaking at Sayyidah Fatimah Hospital in Mlaleo, Nyali sub-county of Mombasa County Hamisa Zaja said the government must start a serious campaign to sensitize parents with special needs children on the importance of loving them.

Zaja organization, in partnership with Dear Diaries Initiatives Kenya and Aisha Foundation CBO donated assistive devices worth over Sh250,000 for the hospital’s therapy department.

She said that physiotherapy facilities should be established up to the ward level so as to eliminate the need to travel long distances to access therapy services.

She said due to inflation, prices of equipment have gone up tenfold and this discourages people willing to donate the equipment to special needs facilities.

“Equipment that we used to buy at Sh150,000 now goes for up to Sh250,000,” she noted.

Aisha Foundation founder Mwanaisha Chiku said sometimes the problems the hidden children suffer from are minor and can be managed if detected early enough.

She said most of the special needs children they deal with suffer from cerebral palsy and require a lot of physical therapy.

Aisha further decried lack of enough therapy equipment and facilities in Mombasa, forcing parents to travel long distances to the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital for the therapy services.

The long distances, the costs involved and hustle and bustle of taking the special needs children to the CGTRH for therapy sessions discourage many parents, thus curtailing their progress.

Said Abdalla, who has a cerebral palsied son, said it is hard raising a special needs child and called on the government to look into ways of helping parents with special needs children and help create better spaces for the children.

“It needs a lot of patience and heart. It is not easy. It is a difficult examination from God,” said Abdalla.

“If you are not strong-willed, you can easily abandon your child or even throw them away. Husbands can easily abandon their wives because of the special needs children.”

He said school facilities for the special needs children are also few and not well equipped in terms of both personnel and equipment.

“Parents with special needs should not give up. We need to stay strong and encourage each other,” he said.

Sayyida Fatimah Hospital administrator Hannah Adam said though they are a level 4 facility, they are a community hospital that thrives with collaboration with partners to help the community members.

Mlaleo assistant chief Zubeda Farid said the government has a way to help parents who cannot afford therapy services for special needs children.

“So, there is no need to hide them. The fee is affordable, at about Sh150 per session and if this is hard for you, we can also work out a way,” she said.

She noted it is unfortunate that some parents do not count their special needs children when the government conducts an activity that requires one to account for the children they have.

“Last week, during the registration of children for the treated government nets, some parents who had five children, said they have only four just because one of them has special needs,” Farid said.








Haniel Mengistu
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