A note from Mary Kuria, Ubuntu Life Foundation Program Director:
“The annual Ubuntu Life Foundation graduation day is a day that is eagerly awaited by the Ubuntu staff, parents, and of course the kids. It is the day we recognize the milestones achieved by the kids in relation to the goals that we have set, the hard work the staff has dedicated, and the commitment of our donors and supporters.
Last year was our very first graduation, and it was a huge success! Most children with special needs do not have the privilege of such public and joyous recognition. We use this opportunity to celebrate them and to let the parents know that their kids are loved. It also gives us a platform to educate the larger community on the importance of special education and early intervention.
This year we were not able to hold our graduation because of the pandemic sweeping through the world. Because last year was such a success within our community, we were incredibly disappointed when we had to cancel the celebrations. We had even decided on the motto for this year’s event, so I’m thankful that even though we couldn’t gather physically, I can share these words and the story of these amazing children with our global Tribe:
When you judge someone based on their diagnosis, you miss out on their abilities, beauty, and uniqueness.
And now, I would like to introduce you to the 2020 Ubuntu Life Foundation graduating class!"
Ruth Njeri (4 years old)
Ruth Njeri came to Ubuntu almost 3 years ago due to delayed milestones and malnutrition. During the assessment, we indicated that her issues ranged from poor hand function and limited movement to low muscle tone and trunk weakness. She transitioned from a part-time therapy patient to a full-time student in our special needs education program in 2018. Her enrollment as a full-time student allowed our team to work with her on areas more than just physical development. Because of that, she can not only walk independently, but she can understand simple and clear instructions, interactions with familiar adults. She can also express her feelings freely when happy or sad. Since she has bridged the developmental gaps, we are now confident about introducing Ruth to the next step, which is early childhood education, with the help of our amazing teachers so that she can catch up with his peers before being integrated into a mainstream school.
Joseph Mwangi (15 Years Old)
Joseph Mwangi came to Ubuntu about 8 years ago when his parents brought him because he could now carry out cognitive functions as his peers could. His mother explained that he was a home birth that led to her being in and out of the hospital with him due to epilepsy and respiratory conditions. Despite his initial developmental delays, he has made significant progress, and we are incredibly proud of him. He can comprehend spoken language, follows instructions, expresses himself, and can even take part in basic literacy activities such as copying numbers and illustrating pictures. Over time he has developed physically both fine motor skills and gross motor skills. He has a great motor coordination which enables him to take part in both indoors and outdoors activities effectively. We celebrate Joseph on the most important skills that he has managed to achieve despite the duration of time it took. Moving forward we now want to introduce Joseph to prevocational skills since he has attained the right age.
Joseph Mwangi (4 Years Old)
Joseph Mwangi has been with Ubuntu almost his whole life since he being diagnosed with cerebral palsy (hemiplegic) at a very young age. He transitioned from a part-time therapy patient to a full-time student in our special needs education program in 2018. This allowed him to make massive developmental strides, excelling in social and emotional communication and regular daily living skills. He is walking, talking, and even drawing! Since he has achieved the developmental milestone goals that we initially set, we are now confident about introducing Joseph to the next step which is early childhood education with the help of our amazing teachers so that he can catch up with his peers before being integrated into a mainstream school.
James Kirima (13 Years Old)
James Kirima has been with Ubuntu for almost 10 years! He came in with severe delays in all developmental areas - physical, cognitive, social, emotional, fine motor, and adaptive skills. It has been an amazing journey with James as he has developed holistically as a young man. He can comprehend spoken language and follows instructions (when he wants to!). He gets along harmoniously with his peers, can write his name, copy numbers, and has had massive physical wins with his fine motor skills that allow him to do daily living activities like brushing his teeth. We celebrate James on the essential skills that he has managed to achieve despite the duration of time it took. Moving forward, we are working on his expressive communication, and we want to introduce him to pre-vocational skills. We will look forward to sharing his journey with you!
Brian Mwangi (2 Years Old)
Brian Mwangi came in for his initial assessment over a year ago when he was just 7 months old. He was struggling with severely delayed developmental milestones - a weak trunk, poor balance and coordination, limited movement, poor muscle strength, and more. Even with only one therapy session a week, between his mother’s consistency and commitment and care from our occupational therapists, he has made massive progress! He has taken his first steps, can feed himself, speak simple words, and gets along great with his peers. He even enjoys a little dancing from time to time! Brian is not quite old enough to transition to mainstream school so we will be keeping in touch with his family to ensure that he doesn’t regress and eventually can join his peers.
Peter Kariuki (6 Years Old)
Peter Kariuki was first assessed by Ubuntu in 2016 when diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Challenges associated with his condition were a weak trunk, poor hand functions, scissoring of the lower extremities due to high muscle tone, and delayed speech/poor communication skills. His parents enrolled him in weekly therapy classes, later bringing him in full-time as a student of the Happy Angels class. His regular attendance and the different interventions being offered at the center have given way to great improvements. He isn’t quite walking yet but our occupational therapists are still thrilled with his progress - he can roll over onto his side, sit with a little help, grasp objects in his hands, understand simple clear instructions, and even high five! The next step is to work with Peter’s trunk stability and help him sit on his own.
Helena Njeri (4 Years Old)
Helena Njeri joined us at 2 years old and diagnosed with cerebral palsy which gave her poor balance and coordination, delayed daily living, and communication skills. She came in at least twice a week for the first year for scheduled therapy appointments and just last year joined us as a full time student. Recently she took her first steps, and she has also learned how to say basic words, has functional movement, enjoys simple songs and rhymes, and can even be assertive with her wants. The next ‘class’ or step for Helena is to confidently introduce her to early childhood education to address her cognitive function needs like concentration, memory as well as learning and ensure she can carry our tasks as her peers.
James Mungai (2 Years Old)
James Mungai was diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy when he came to us. Leading to a weak trunk, poor balance and coordination of both the upper and lower body, reduced muscle strength and endurance, limited movement, and delayed developmental milestones. Between a home care program with the help of our team and his grandmother and regular therapy visits, he has improved tremendously! He is walking independently, feeding himself, expressing his feelings, and is generally flourishing.
However, since James has not attained the school going age, we will keep in touch with the family to ensure that he does not regress, and once he attains the right age we will reassess to ensure he gets integrated into a mainstream school.