Most parents with children who have a disability will have experienced the feeling of helplessness and will have asked, why and how did this happen? Is there a cure? What can I do to help? For those living in developed countries there will most likely be some support available, lots of information and treatment/therapy to help with the condition. They will get answers to some of those questions. For Kenyans in Njoro, this could not be further from their reality.
Giving birth to a child with a disability can bring rejection from the community and family. Parents endure stigma and blame for the disability and they don’t get answers to the thousand questions a parent has. With little or no information available, when seeing a doctor is not an option because you have no money and there is no specialist equipment, many conditions go undiagnosed and untreated. For some parents it’s too much to bear and the children are abandoned or even killed. For others, their desperation leads them in pursuit of traditional practices and witchcraft. It’s heartbreaking to see the lengths some will go to to ‘cure’ their child. Below are photos of the scars left by a witchdoctor on one young disabled child who is unable to walk. The mum was told that by cutting the skin and inserting certain leaves into the cuts it would strengthen the joints and the child would be able to walk. Let us be clear, this is not therapy or treatment, this is child abuse and this barbaric practice needs to stop. It needs to stop, not only because of the emotional and physical cruelty on the children, but stop so that the parents, family and community can stop chasing empty promises and false hope and have peace, accepting and loving their child for the beautiful and special gift they are.
Examples like this one is what makes our disability support groups so important. Thankfully, the Mum of this child has just joined one of our groups. Through our groups we can support parents so they get the help that’s available and don’t feel alone and overwhelmed by the challenges they face. We can educate parents, carers and the wider community about the causes of disability and we can help people see that disability does not mean inability and that all people should be given the opportunity to reach their full potential and be equally valued within the community.
We are just a small charity with limited resources but by supporting The Potter’s House CBO you are helping to educate communities and protect children.