Kenyans living with disabilities make big community contributions
Commemorating International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Fredrick Mwangi Mbugua delivered a powerful address in honor of International Day of Persons with Disabilities at the Joytown School for the Disabled in Thika. Mbugua speaks from personal experience, from resilience…and from a wheelchair.
Fredrick, an 18-year-old graduate of the Thika school, shared the stage with United States Deputy Chief of Mission Isiah Parnell. “Fredrick could go on to become the President of Kenya just like Franklin D. Roosevelt was the President of the United States,” remarked Parnell. Both Fredrick and former U.S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, participated fully in democracy despite being confined to a wheelchair.
Fredrick is one of the ten percent of Kenya’s young people that are living with some form of disability. Persons with disabilities in Kenya are often discriminated against. People with disabilities have the same needs as other Kenyans, but do not have equal access to education and skills training to help them meet these needs. USAID partners with Kenyans in the government, civil society and the private sector to help people with disabilities overcome these barriers.
Teaching disabled students to Feed the Future
Students from the Joytown School for the Disabled and the Mary Magdalene School for Mentally Handicapped Children in Thika have learned how to grow nutritious foods like spinach, pumpkin, kale, and sweet potatoes. These vegetables have improved the nutrition of their school meals. Students can now grow and maintain healthy gardens of their own.
John Nyanjui is one of 32 mentally handicapped young people that can now find employment with their gardening skills or grow their own gardens for income or food. John, a recent graduate of Mary Magdalene has built a career in maintaining the nutrition garden and sharing his knowledge and skills with students. “I am very grateful for this job because I can now prove to everyone that disability is not inability. Now I can meet my own needs and even send something back home every now and then,” he said.
The 42 nutrition gardens in the Thika area are part of Feed the Future, the United States Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative. Feed the Future partners with countries like Kenya to reduce hunger, poverty and under nutrition.
Providing hearing disabled students with the tools to learn
USAID programs are evaluating the effectiveness of information and communications technology (ICT) in classrooms that would address the learning needs of students with hearing disabilities. Fifty-two laptops were provided to Kibarani School for the Deaf. Twelve teachers were trained in how to integrate ICT into their special needs curriculum. See what Dzidza, a student at Kibarani thinks about this program.
Encouraging persons with disabilities to participate and lead
USAID supports community organizations that represent persons with disabilities. These local organizations raise awareness on the issues persons with disabilities face. They ensure the rights of these persons are included in legislation and work to make sure these rights are fully realized under the new constitution. Election and leadership training materials have been adapted to braille, large print and audio. Persons with disabilities are politically active, and 59 persons with disabilities are aspiring for political office in the 2013 general elections.