Kupenda’s Disability Guidebook: Supporting Communities to Better Understand Disabilities

by Lauren Blair

In low- and middle-income countries around the world, people with disabilities are often neglected, abandoned, abused, or even murdered due to the belief that a person with a disability has been cursed by God or witchcraft. In response to this negative stigma, Kupenda utilizes a number of tools to educate communities about disability and what loving inclusion looks like. One of the most powerful resources we teach and distribute is our Disability Guidebook, which provides people with a basic understanding of common disabilities, including their descriptions, medical causes, and recommended interventions.

The Need

This information is particularly useful in areas where community leaders, caretakers, and people with disabilities themselves have a wide range of literacy levels and often lack access to accurate and easily understandable information. As a result, our guidebook utilizes graphics and simple text to discuss commonly occurring disabilities as well as those that are frequently misdiagnosed or misunderstood.

The Impact

As Kupenda continues to distribute this guidebook at its Disability Advocacy Training Workshops, events, counseling sessions, and among its partner organizations, we are already beginning to witness its impact on children like Issah.

Issah is a nine-year-old boy who was born with cerebral palsy. Due to negative beliefs about disability, his family faced discrimination by community members. As is often the case with disabilities, his mother was accused for having done something wrong–causing her to experience the crushing weight of rejection and self-blame.

Fortunately, Issah’s mother learned about and attended one of Kupenda’s Parent Disability Advocacy Workshops. It was there that she was given resources such as the Disability Guidebook to understand the medical causes of disability and learn about her child’s rights and her responsibilities as a caregiver. She stated,

“Resources such as the … Disability Guidebook helped me to understand my child’s disability better and its interventions. That understanding relieved my pain and I started to accept my child. I started taking my child for therapy at Rabai Hospital. After some time, my child learned to sit, and, today, he crawls from one place to another.

As a parent, I have been sharing the guidebook information with other families impacted by disability. … I have been able to form a parent support group for caregivers of children with cerebral palsy where we meet every week to share our success stories and provide emotional support. … Thank you [Kupenda staff in Kenya] for empowering me. I have become a disability advocate for my child and many others with disabilities in my community.”

Please join us in supporting more families like Issah’s, who long to know that their children are valuable and are worthy of loving inclusion!

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