Enable Elizabeth to identify and treat disabled children in one Maasai village
$1,268 will pay for:
Elizabeth to train a group of volunteers to identify all disabled children in one village, and work with their families to reduce stigma and establish ongoing treatment and support
Southern Rift Valley, Kenya
In Maasai communities in rural Kenya, alarm has been raised over the number of unidentified children with disabilities silently suffering while hidden away in their homes. In Kajiado county at least 200 of the 302 children that suffer from cerebral palsy do so mainly due to fetal distress infections, lack of immunisations and developmental milestone delays. Their condition is further worsened by malnutrition due to the lack of awareness and financial challenges. All these are as a result of failure to access timely medical attention and health education during pregnancy and immediately after birth.
In the Maasai culture, having a disability is seen as a curse and stigma levels are rampant among the local population, so the children are hidden away without the extent of their disability or treatment options being assessed. In almost every family there is a baby who has died and many parents have no idea what to do if their baby develops common ailments such as jaundice or a fever.
Elizabeth, a Kenyan physiotherapist has done extensive research on children with disabilities among the Maasai communities, and has met with and successfully rehabilitated many disabled children in her 18-year career.
Last year Elizabeth brought a team of physiotherapists from Nairobi to run educational seminars and one-on-one treatment sessions for 100 families of children with disabilities in the Maasai Magadi area of Kenya.
Such is the need in these communities that one young mother had thought her toddler was cursed and had brought him to the session to give him up. Elizabeth taught her that her son had a condition called cerebral palsy and advised her it is completely normal and not her fault and she broke down in tears, so relieved that she was able to keep and love her son as she’d always wanted to do.
With many heartbreaking and successful stories like this, Elizabeth is now expanding her operations to reach new, isolated pastoralist communities, and work with more families to treat, care for and fully accept their children with disabilities.
Elizabeth’s life-changing work brings children out of the corners they’re hidden in and into family and public life, where they learn to integrate as normal and respected members of society.