On Father's Day, we honor all fathers and those who act as fathers. This year we asked Kelvin Chege, our occupational therapist at the Ubuntu Special Needs Centre (SNC), to tell us about his experience with the family of children at the SNC. As an individual who cares for these amazing kids with limitless potential and who helps restore hope to dejected families, we consider him an honorary Ubuntu father.
The Journey to parenthood here, (Maai-Mahiu, Kenya) as with other cultures is always held with so much joy and expectation. When a couple is expecting a child, the society too expects with them. The hope is always to have a beautiful healthy baby who will carry on the family legacy while making a life for themselves.
Sometimes, this does not happen and the child arrives a little ‘different’ than had been hoped. Sometimes they arrive healthy but certain circumstances later make them ‘different’.
Having a child with disabilities in a rural setting such as ours (Maai-Mahiu, Kenya) can be one of the most daunting experiences there are to parents.
Parents have found themselves disoriented, alone, without a clue of where or whom to turn to or maybe even thrown to a point of despair. They find themselves, by no fault of their making, neither by choice, in new territory, none that they had ever seen or imagined. A once bright and hopeful future now becomes bleak, dark and unpromising. The society that had at one time hoped and expected with them now turn their backs, ostracize and even shame them ,breaking them down even more.
My name is Kelvin, an Occupational Therapist working with Ubuntu Kids Centre, a centre dedicated to kids with special needs and their families in our Maai-Mahiu community.
In my daily encounter with these kids and their parents, I have listened to numerous parents express how our centre has influenced them; taking them from a point of desolation to a point of purpose.
They have said:
- They were shunned by the society for having a differently abled child.
- They were denied work opportunities because of the strain raising their special child had on their productivity.
- They didn’t know how to accept their new status.
- They didn’t know how to properly handle and raise their special child.
- They didn’t know how to get back their joy and life purpose.
- They witnessed their own family dynamics crumble just because of the new special family member.
On the other side they said,
- Our Centre had renewed their strength and given them a new spirit in handling the change as a result of joining the psychosocial support groups that we organized.
- By providing the therapy services, individualized education programs, daily living skills training and social inclusion opportunities to their children, they had witnessed firsthand just how unfair it was to set limits for their children’s abilities.
- They participated in numerous workshops that gave them capacity to communicate, feed, educate, and nurture their children to their full potential, the dream that every other parent has.
- They have learned how to be entrepreneurial hence self reliant in economically supporting the needs of their child with special needs and their families.
- Our Centre was a beacon of hope even for their kids self esteem. They felt appreciated even for the little stuff. Nobody here cared whether you wanted to be a pilot when you grew up, we cared that you were comfortable enough to hold a spoon and successfully take it to your mouth even if a little food spilled back to the plate.
- By joining our centre, they feel like they became part of one big family.
Ubuntu Kids Centre is growing even more and we are looking to reach even more kids.
We aim at creating a bigger impact on the lives of kids with special needs and their families in our area and beyond."