Furaha’s Story: How a Girl Who Once Couldn’t Walk or Write is now Excelling Physically, Socially and Academically

by Sandra Bauer

Furaha was born in 2004 with cerebral palsy that affected her legs, which has resulted in her being unable to walk. Although she only has moderate cognitive issues, she did not attend school for many years because her physical challenges made it too hard for her to travel to the local schools. In addition, Furaha’s mother was raising her and her 5 siblings alone so she could not afford to pay for Furaha’s education or physical therapy. Her father divorced her mother and wanted nothing to do with Furaha because of her disability.  In fact, he was very hostile about his daughter, which is common in Kenya where many people believe that disabilities are caused by curses.  Fortunately, Furaha’s other relatives accepted her as an important member of their family.

In 2017, when Furaha was 13 years old, Kupenda for the Children found a sponsor for her who paid $30 per month so she could begin attending a special school. Furaha enrolled in the Gede Special School which has dormitories for the students. Her home was 10 km from the school, so it was necessary for Furaha to live on the premises.

When she started school, the headmaster said that Furaha was polite, humble, and very disciplined.  He said she engaged with other students and was very creative.

After a year at Gede Special School, thanks to the physical therapy she was receiving, Furaha’s mobility improved and she was able to use her arms and fingers to write. As a result, she could complete her assignments and she started to get better grades.  Thanks to Kupenda’s family counseling and disability sensitization activities, the community and family also began to treat Furaha well and her mother started to participate in the Gede school activities.

At school, Furaha began to make many friends.  Some of her friends helped to push her wheelchair  around the school grounds, making it easier for Furaha to go from the dormitory to her classroom and then the cafeteria.  She joined the school’s wildlife club and began competing in wheelchair races. In 2020, she was diagnosed as having brittle bone disease, so Kupenda counselled the family on the best practices of caring for a child with this disease.

Today, Furaha is 17 years old.  She continues to live in the dormitory at Gede Special, but she was doing so well academically that her teachers moved her to the mainstream Gede Primary School next door.  She is very bright and does well in all her subjects.  She enjoys math the most and often helps other students that are having difficulties.  According to her teacher, Furaha has the best handwriting in the class.

Because a sponsor decided to pay for boarding fees for Furaha, she was able to attend school, make friends, participate in athletics, access therapy and medical care, and experience love and acceptance from her community.  All of her teachers feel that Furaha has a very bright future.

 

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Sandra Bauer


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