by Lauren Blair
Posted on January 31, 2024
Throughout the world, people with disabilities are often denied loving inclusion among their families and communities. This is not usually due to the disability itself but to the limiting views of others around them. For children like Hellen, her community’s understanding of disability meant the difference between life and death.
Stigma and Struggle
When Hellen was born, her mother’s labor was difficult, and Hellen soon developed high fevers and seizures. As she grew, her parents noticed that she was unable to speak, move easily, or sit on her own.
Her mother took her to nine different traditional healers who believed that Hellen had been bewitched. Despite their treatments, Hellen did not improve.
Over time, Hellen’s family blamed her mother for causing her disability and refused to accept or support Hellen. Since the family lacked resources, Hellen was often denied meals and became emaciated. At their lowest point, Hellen’s father even expressed a wish for Hellen to die.
When Pastor Ndundi, a Kupenda-trained disability advocate and Kupenda staff in Kenya learned of Hellen’s situation, they visited the family to provide counseling and nutritional support. Through their efforts, the family had a better understanding of Hellen’s disability and how to offer support.
Hellen’s mother stated,
“I learned that my child’s disability was not a result of witchcraft but … prolonged labor and my child’s sickness after giving birth. … This knowledge has been an eye-opener to me and my family.”
Today, Hellen’s community is also becoming more accepting and inclusive of people with disabilities. Through Kupenda’s Disability Training Workshops, community leaders learn about the medical causes of disability, appropriate interventions, and how to create action plans to support those with disabilities where they live.
In addition, Kupenda’s Child Case Management Mobile App allows local leaders and staff to continue to track Hellen’s needs and provide follow-up support.
Today, Hellen’s father accepts and loves his daughter. He stated,
“It is through Kuhenza/Kupenda that my child has been able to access medical interventions. Her nutritional needs are being met and the psychological wellbeing of the family has been taken care of. Thank you so much Kuhenza/Kupenda for giving us hope at a time when we were so desperate!”
Leaving a Legacy of Love
Hellen’s quality of life improved because her family and community better understood her disability. Yet for many others, this is not the case.
Improving life for children with disabilities involves a global network of advocates, including supporters like you. This Valentine’s Day, consider being the catalyst for one more child to receive the love they so rightfully deserve!
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