Today, on May 15, the United Nations’ International Day of Families, Kupenda celebrates the importance of the family unit to supporting healthy children and strong societies.
Ten year-old Neema Baya has been deaf since birth. Several years ago her parents accused one another of causing her disability and eventually decided to separate and leave her in the care of her aunt. Because she was not attending school or learning sign language, Neema was unable to communicate form meaningful relationships with others.
Fortunately, Kupenda located Neema’s parents and counseled them on the importance of providing their daughter with proper care, education, sign language training, and a safe and loving family environment. Kupenda also trained her parents in sign language so they could communicate with Neema and taught them how genetics played a part in her disability, thereby enabling them to abandon their superstitious beliefs about the spiritual causes of her disability. This training also helped Neema’s parents to stop blaming one another for her deafness, which eventually helped to repair their marriage.
Neema is now attending school and fluent in sign language and the family is once again living in the same home — a complete unit.
Former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, put it best when he said,
“The happiness of any society begins with the well-being of the families that live in it.”
By helping families like Neema’s, Kupenda strengthens the individual, the family, and the society. In addition to family reunification efforts, Kupenda’s Family-Based Care initiatives include
- case management,
- parent support groups,
- income generating support
- short term financial support,
- transportation, referrals and fee waivers for medical care.
Kupenda also supports parents and other relatives of people living with disabilities through trainings on disability awareness and care, first aid, sign language, and crisis intervention.
Leesa Tarter is a freelance writer living in Baltimore, Maryland. After serving for 7 years in the U.S. Navy, she pursued a career as a special education teacher. Leesa also has extensive experience in sexual assault victim advocacy, curriculum development, dog training, and as a volunteer for Kupenda’s supporter, Adventures For the Cure. Leesa has a B.A. in English from American Military University and an M.A. in English & Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University.