Kenya: Community-Based Rehabilitation Program Opens Doors for Disabled
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John Torres, Senior Public Relations Manager
SILVER SPRING, Md. —Thousands of people living with disabilities in the Nyanza Province of Kenya had their health improved and obtained greater social acceptance within their home communities through the Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Program implemented by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).
“In Kenya, and specifically in Homa Bay, people living with disabilities are among the poorest of the poor,” said Marth Momanyi, programs director for ADRA Kenya. “They lack access to education, rehabilitation services, and income-generating activities, and find it difficult to socialize with others in their societies. These are the root causes of their vulnerabilities.”
One CBR program participant, Monica, is a 49-year old woman who was born with a cleft lip and palate, a birth defect that can affect normal everyday behaviors such as eating, talking, and even hearing.
She was severely stigmatized because of her condition, and at times, it was so bad that she considered suicide. “Most of the children in her area were scared of her,” shared Momanyi. Monica often avoided public gatherings. She was ostracized by her family, who refused to eat meals with her, or be seen in public with her.
In 2007, she was screened by the CBR team at a health clinic in Mirogi, Kenya, and received corrective surgery at the Nyabondo Mission Hospital in December 2008.
The surgery changed her life. After the surgery, she would wake up at night and admire herself in the mirror. “I am seeing happiness in myself and I am thankful to CBR and the Canadians for the assistance they gave me,” Monica said. “I am confident now because I can speak, walk, and pray amidst other people.”
The project is being carried out in the Rachuonyo and Homa Bay Districts, along the shores of Lake Victoria. According to ADRA Kenya, these areas were selected due to the high incidence of disabilities in this region, which was caused by reduced immunization coverage, endemic malaria, and a lack of access to adequate health care in the region.
The Luo community, which resides in this region, commonly believes that having a family member with a disability is due to a curse or a bad omen. This affliction may be the result of the family’s non-conformity to known social norms. Families who are affected by disabilities often become outcasts, and to avoid shame, the family member with the disability is hidden from public view.
More than 18,600 people have benefited from the program to date. Beneficiaries, although primarily individuals living with disabilities also include community’s own resource persons (CORPs), teachers, school children, community members and CBR team members.
Various CBR services include rehabilitation, such as surgical referrals and non-surgical treatment for clients with disabilities, educational opportunities, and income-generating activities, such as weaving, rope making, and carpentry. Project participants are also involved in decision making in important development activities in their communities.
“The CBR activities have enhanced the quality of life of project participants who are currently living with disabilities, helping them to lead independent lives,” said Momanyi.
In addition, the program ensures that female participants receive the training they need to improve their own capacity, and better care for their households.
For more information, visit www.adra.org.
Author: Nadia McGill