ESD Project at Compassionate Hands for the Disabled Foundation in Kenya

The Compassionate Hands for the Disabled Foundation was founded in 2009 in Korogocho slums but moved to Ruai due to the increase in the number of kids in the institution. It caters for 85 mentally and physically disabled kids up to 21+ years, with almost 10 educators. They are taken through a therapy process and are also equipped with life skills including beadwork and computer literacy lessons apart from the basic formal education. The center is faced with a number of challenges, among them are lack of sanitary pads for girls, insufficient food especially cereals and fruits because most of them are under medication.

Our Project

The project’s goal was to teach the disabled kids and their educators on Education for Sustainable Development, in line with One African Child Foundation’s objective for this year.

UNESCO defines Education for Sustainable Development as including key sustainable development issues into teaching and learning; for example, climate change, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity, poverty reduction, and sustainable consumption. It also requires participatory teaching and learning methods that motivate and empower learners to change their behavior and take action for sustainable development.

OAC Kenya Volunteers coaching students during the training

What we did

The activities carried out were planned based on the numbers and characteristics of the group, bearing in mind the time and the length of the training. A number of kids were teachable and were separated according to their classes and specific needs. The main mode of education is non-formal. Volunteers supported this project by sending their contribution to enable adequate planning, sparing their time and effort to attend and also utilize their skills on ESD by engaging in education for the kids and the educators.
There was a therapy session for those kids with cerebral palsy. A pre-visit to the venue was conducted by Agatha and Jeffrey, who documented full information on what is needed to make the project successful.
“I was amazed by the different abilities possessed by children living with disability. It made me realize that disability is only a Perception, that if given resources, opportunity and a conducive environment, disabled children can become very productive in helping to solve societal problems, rather than being viewed as a burden to the society. They can become part of the change that the society so much long for.” – Brian Juma

The Target Group and Training

The kids were of ages between 5 to 21 years, most of whom move freely but others are in wheelchairs. The children were divided into 4 groups, including those with cerebral palsy, autism, small children, and others with other disabilities. 85 mentally and physically disabled kids up to 21+ years, with almost 10 educators were targeted for this project. Training materials covering the contents for the program were prepared and packaged for the participants by John Shivisi. The training involved individual and group exercises, team building activities as well as input from the facilitators. There were many opportunities to raise questions or concerns throughout the training.

“I learnt that having a disability doesn’t stop me from getting an education and I also learnt that it is important to appreciate and value everyone no matter the condition.” – Agatha Wanzala

Comments from Volunteers

Agatha exclaimed that the visit was a great learning experience; and that it made her appreciate life and everyone around her and taught her that disability is not inability. Chebet thought that being a part of the event shows that there’s still good in the world. She said there were selfless people willing to make an impact that will go a long way in nurturing African children who have a big role in shaping Africa’s tomorrow. Shivisi concluded that from his interaction with those wonderful kids and having engaged them in his lessons, that it was crystal clear that no two children look alike. He emphasized that this has strengthened his belief in getting the best out of every learner, and to help every child reach full potential. He talked of every child needing an individualized education plan, and that educators needed to give attention to every bit of detail about every learner.

On her side, Makena commented that every day was a learning day for her and that she had learned never to take anything for granted. She was amazed by the skills unexploited yet possessed by some of the kids, whom she described as being abled differently. Lindah was amazed by the work volunteers did, and vowed to stay committed and engage in the coming projects. Ng’etich appreciated the team for the good work, Bonny thanked the leadership, while Nyash was glad the team had put a smile on the kids’ faces. Jeffrey agreed with the volunteers’ experience, citing that every child was unique and had the best to offer.

One African Child Kenya Volunteers presenting donations to CHDF staff

Challenges encountered in the Project Execution 

There were a set of kids who couldn’t be taught, owing to their mental and/or physical disabilities, so they couldn’t concentrate or coordinate their actions, thus they were unable to learn. The plausibility of including all the children in the learning activities in alignment with the goal of inclusivity was a major challenge and inadequate resources, based on the fact that the target population was too large.

In conclusion, the project was highly successful and it was a great initiative that impacted not only the children and the educators but also the volunteers as they had a lot to learn from the experience. The project achieved its objectives and even despite the challenges faced, children were delighted to have the team around. The project was an eye opener as it exposed volunteers to the challenges faced by disabled persons. The commitment, selflessness, and empathy of the volunteers made the whole difference and made this project a unique one. The team wishes to continue fulfilling the vision of One African Child to empower learners and educators on ESD.

CHDF kids during the training sessions

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