by Sanjida Azad
Posted on July 13, 2023
In the coastal community of Mijomboni, Kilifi, Kenya, a determined eight-year-old girl named Sharon faces numerous obstacles on her journey towards empowerment. Raised by her elderly grandmother alongside her siblings, Sharon’s life has been marked by adversity and mental health challenges. However, her perseverance, along with the support of Kupenda for the Children, has created a ray of hope as Sharon begins to defy expectations and find acceptance in her community.
Struggles and Stigma
Sharon’s life has been marred by the absence of her single mother, who faced her own mental health challenges and was unable to provide for the family. Living in a mud hut, Sharon and her siblings rely on their grandmother, who struggles to meet their basic needs. Furthermore, Sharon grapples with seizures, speech difficulties, and behavior resulting from her mental health condition.
Through a local leader’s participation in Kupenda’s Disability Advocacy Workshops, Sharon’s plight was brought to their attention. The organization’s field team visited Sharon’s home and connected with her family to gain a deeper understanding of their needs.
Comprehensive Care and Education
Kupenda’s Child Protection Officer also played a crucial role in counseling Sharon’s grandmother and helping her access medical care. A visit to an epilepsy specialist ultimately led to a diagnosis and appropriate medication to manage Sharon’s seizures. Moreover, Kupenda staff in Kenya counseled Sharon’s siblings about her mental health challenges, resulting in a shift from abuse to understanding and support.
Determined to foster Sharon’s education, Kupenda also facilitated an assessment that determined her ability to attend a mainstream school. With enrollment at a local primary school, Sharon faces new challenges in adjusting to the school environment. However, Kupenda remains dedicated to monitoring her progress and ensuring she receives the necessary support and instruction to flourish academically. Additionally, Sharon benefits from the guidance of a trained disability advocate, who regularly checks on her well-being and provides counseling.
Transformation and Hope
Sharon’s grandmother, transformed by Kupenda’s counseling sessions and caregiving training, now embraces her granddaughter’s condition with love and acceptance. Witnessing positive changes in Sharon’s speech, independence, and overall demeanor, she is filled with gratitude for the newfound understanding in her community.
Sharon’s grandmother says,
“My prayer is that [Sharon] will get an education, grow normally and be independent in her life, and help me when I get old.”
Sharon’s journey exemplifies the power of support, understanding, and empowerment. Through hard work and Kupenda’s interventions, Sharon is defying social stigma, finding her own voice, and embracing opportunities for growth. As she continues her education, surrounded by love and protection, Sharon’s story serves as an important message about breaking down barriers and embracing the limitless potential of all children, regardless of their challenges.
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