From Fear to Acceptance

by Sandra Bauer

Pendo 1

Pendo (Swahili for “love”) is a young girl who was born with brittle bone disease that affects the development of her lower legs. Brittle bone disease, or osteogenesis imperfecta, is a lifelong genetic disorder that causes bones to break easily, even without injury.

Both her mother, who is confined to a wheelchair, and her sister also have a disability. Due to negative cultural beliefs that disabilities are a curse, her community viewed her and her family with fear and shock. Her father even abandoned them. As a result, Pendo’s grandmother was left as the primary caregiver. Since the area where the family lives is experiencing a long-term drought, she lacked the means necessary to provide proper support.

Resources for Support

In 2017, Pendo’s family received assistance that made them hopeful. Kupenda found a couple willing to pay for a scholarship for Pendo to attend a special school called the Kizurini Special School. When she first started attending, she had very low self-esteem, which impacted her learning. Over time, however, Pendo learned that she was indeed a good student and capable of learning. During her first year, she earned a perfect score on her mathematics final exam! She is also encouraged because she receives three nutritious meals a day and has made many friends, whom she enjoys talking and playing with.  

In addition to helping meet her physical and academic needs, Kupenda offers counseling and advocacy services to Pendo, her family, and her community. Through these resources, Pendo learned to accept her disability and gain self-esteem. Her family was informed about proper nutrition, healthcare, and the rights of children with disabilities. Finally, her community grew in their understanding about the correct causes of and interventions for disabilities as well as the need for loving inclusion.

Confidence and Community

Today, Pendo is a 6th grader in her school. She spends time with other children during breaks and enjoys reading and singing.

Her mother recently said, 

“I feel good about myself. When I look at my child, she is all grown and can even cook for herself with little support. I have a good relationship with my family and people in my community…”

Due to sponsorship, counseling, and a school that can meet her needs, Pendo now has hope for her future. She is no longer feared in her community and is more fully accepted by her family and others.

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