Ubuntu Kids, previously Malaika Kids, was one of our first programs and is a cornerstone at the heart of our organization. When we first came to Maai Mahiu, we found a community of children with special needs and their mothers being mistreated and secluded. We created the Ubuntu Special Needs Centre to combat this stigma and injustice by providing therapy, education, and vocational training to youth with special needs in the region.
In order for the children at the Centre to become independent, they require a combination of therapy and holistic education not available in regular schools. We, therefore, provide our students with physical therapy and rehabilitation (in our classrooms and at home) as well as an individualized education program that includes daily living, social interaction and communication skills. We also provide training for the parents and families of children with special needs on how to understand their needs, access the resources that are available to them and combat the daily stress of stigma.
Sadly, it is estimated that 1.3 million Kenyan children, between the ages of 1-19, suffer from developmental impairment. Over 100,000 children with special needs are out of school due to a lack of disability friendly facilities, an unfortunate reality that prevents more than 70% of children with disabilities from becoming literate. To expand our reach across Kenya and to combat stigma, we focus first on tackling the lack of understanding surrounding special needs through our social inclusion and community awareness events. On the national level, our team also pursues advocacy and political action surrounding disability awareness, rights, and services.
The kids at Ubuntu are a shining example of what proper intervention can accomplish for children that are otherwise written off. Three graduates have secured full-time employment with Ubuntu's enterprise programs. Last year three others transitioned to vocational training and five students graduated from our program able to join their peers at mainstream schools. As these numbers grow each year, we infuse our communities with a belief and an understanding that disability does not mean inability.
We deeply believe that investing in these children is not only about their dignity, it is about the health and potential of the entire region. The only way that we can all truly move forward is as a healthy and whole community that accounts for everyone. By providing an example of what resources like the Centre can accomplish and advocating for those who don't have a voice, we are living into this belief and making our communities whole again. Please join us in spreading love and strengthening communities holistically throughout Kenya.