Empowering Ruth: Community Support and Advocacy

by Kupenda

A young girl in a blue dress smiling holding a baby doll

By, Sanjida Azad & Martha Karo

For many children with disabilities like Ruth, their experiences and opportunities are largely determined by their community’s prevailing beliefs about disability. In many low- and middle-income countries, disabilities are often attributed to witchcraft or curses. This perception leads to mistreatment, social exclusion, and, tragically, even fatalities. To address this harmful stigma, organizations like Kupenda organize Disability Training Workshops. These workshops aim to educate community leaders about the true medical origins of disabilities, appropriate interventions, and the importance of providing transformative support. By challenging misconceptions and fostering empathy, these workshops hold the power to significantly improve the lives of children like Ruth, fostering acceptance, inclusion, and a hopeful future.

Defying Discrimination

Ruth is a young girl from Kilifi, Kenya who developed cerebral palsy, which affects her mobility and speech. One day she was assaulted by an elderly man in her neighborhood. Her parents intervened, reported the incident to the police, and the perpetrator was arrested. However, the attacker’s relatives reacted with hostility, intimidating Ruth and her family by standing outside their home and threatening them. Fearing for Ruth’s safety, her parents decided to switch schools, which was difficult due to financial concerns. As a result, Ruth’s family was left in danger. That all changed, however, when a pastor named Andayi intervened.

Breaking Barriers

After Pastor Andayi attended Kupenda’s first-ever Disability Outreach and Inclusion Workshop, she was very inspired by what she learned. She began identifying children with disabilities in her community, counseling them, and, when necessary, connecting them to service providers. When Pastor Andayi met Ruth and heard her story, she was very concerned. In order to prevent another attack, Pastor Andayi worked with Kupenda’s field staff to enroll Ruth in a new school. Since Ruth’s parents could not afford the boarding fees at this school, Kupenda provided the child with a scholarship.

With these supports, Ruth started attending a new school, where she is now learning tools to communicate, receiving an education, and making new friends. Ruth’s progress in school is remarkable. In combination with gestures, Ruth is now better able to express her needs. With each achievement, she grows more confident and independent, proving that resilience knows no bounds. Her vibrant spirit shines through despite the challenges she faces.

Ruth’s journey reminds us of the transformative power of community support. As additional leaders follow the example of P astor Andayi, more people will be able to advocate for better support and inclusion of people with disabilities. Please consider supporting more children like Ruth to gain the tools they need to flourish and contribute their unique talents to the world!

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