Martha Karo is the head teacher at the Gede Special School, the first school supported by Kupenda. She has been working in support of children with disabilities for over 28 years. On November 20, Universal Children’s Day, we spoke with Madam Karo about her experience helping children with disabilities access their rights to “life, health and education” as out lined by the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child. This Convention was adopted on November 20, 1989, when the situation in Kenya was much different for children with disabilities.
“The government now provides free maternal and child care, which has helped to reduce complications associated with disabilities,” Karo explained. “Free primary school education has also been expanded to include children with special needs.”
Madam Karo is grateful to be a part of a school that is currently providing such care to over 100 children, with support from Kupenda for the Children. She believes if more schools like Gede could exist around the country, millions of children with special needs could have more hope for the future.
“At Gede we provide more than just medicine and education – we also provide shelter, protection from violence and four well-balanced daily meals. The children at Gede are not discriminated against. Their views are heard and they are given and shown love.”
In addition to education access, Madam Karo also wants to see more people in Kenya and around the world support the UN’s Universal Children’s Day goal of promoting “international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare.” She especially wants to see this work include the millions of children living with disabilities around the world.”
“We need actions, not words. Donors to provide food and learning materials. Volunteers to play with the children and help with cleaning. Sponsors to pay boarding fees. And people to pray for them and with them.”
But she doesn’t stop there. Madam Karo has been working with Kupenda to implore Kenyan leaders and global authorities to take a more active role in defending the rights of children with disabilities.
“Most of all, we need our leaders to become more serious about addressing the needs of children with disabilities and we need them to preach harmony so more can be done to help these children.”
Through Madam Karo and the Kupenda team’s advocacy efforts, government officials, local leaders, medical professionals, faith leaders, and teachers are now expanding services to fully include children with disabilities.
On Universal Children’s Day, we celebrate the strength of these children and the commitment of Madam Karo and the many others who have devoted their lives to helping children with disabilities access their rights and reach their full potential. We also celebrate the generosity of our donors and sponsors who make so much of this work possible.