Every child is special. Every child has needs. However, others need a bit more attention or care compared to others. That does not mean they are less important. All they need is a little extra help to get through life just like we all do. Children with special needs may have developmental delays, medical conditions, psychiatric conditions, or congenital conditions. Because of this, they may need to join special facilities or schools for care and education.
JKUAT ICT welfare gave a courtesy visit to Hope & Faith Home for Special needs children on Friday 10th December 2021 and donated food supplies, diapers, and funds to buy medicine to the children who currently mainly rely on donations from well-wishers.
Adequate care and education come at a cost and unfortunately, not every family/parent can afford this. We also have those who were neglected and abandoned by their parents. Well, not all is lost. There are children’s homes where these children can be nurtured and taken care of. Hope & Faith Home for Special needs children in Juja Farm is one such facility.
On the day of the visit, the Hope & Faith Home family warmly welcomed the ICT welfare team at the Children’s Home. Some activities that the group did were to cook and share a meal with the children, take part in song and dance, learn about the history of the home and pray with the Children and their caregivers. For us all, it was a beautiful but very emotional day.
Hope & Faith Home for Special needs children are currently home to 33 children from the age of 1 and a half years old. Out of the 33 children, 4 are in day school at a nearby school- Juja Farm primary while 2 are in boarding school. The government assigned 6 social workers in the home as caregivers and directors of nursing (matrons) for the children.
The founder, Marion Karimi, started the home in 2006, in Mwiki. They later moved to Juja farm in 2010 after acquiring the land they are in now. The children in the home are autistic, mute, hard of hearing, or those who have cerebral palsy. Most of them have over one disability, and this is something Ms. Nelius, one of the Social workers assigned to the home by the government, says they notice over time as the children grow older. Some children are in diapers round the clock, some need help in using to the cloakroom. These are only but a few of the cases in the home.
The team also donated some money to help the matrons buy medicine for the children who have skin diseases and those who often get convulsions. One very emotional case is that of a young girl whose mother was an alcoholic and also never breastfed the baby. We have all heard tales that expectant mothers should not take any alcohol or drugs, but we never really know the extent of how it can affect the baby. One of the young girls, who is now 4 years old, has stunted growth but looks like a one-year-old baby. Unfortunately, she may never get to grow older because of the extent of damage to her spinal cord.
The home is registered at the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection. The children come in from referrals by the Ministry children’s office at Posta Juja and the surrounding churches. Each child has a file and in the event their parents are traced and they want the child back, it takes up to 3 months for the court to assess the parents before they give the kids back to them. How do they know the children’s names? For those that came in through referrals, it is quite easy to know their names. However some came in with their files written baby. They are named by the caregivers and are later given “Hope” as their last name to represent the home.
Despite all the pain and hardship, the home celebrates success stories like Lucy who came to the home crawling. Therapists from JKUAT treated her. Luckily, she got better. She is now among the four who go to school. One student recently finished form 4 and is yet to join JKUAT. If a child can’t do much or go to school, they look for skills they can do so that they can nurture them early on to prepare for adulthood. The Children’s office insists the children in the home should be 18 years and below. However, Ms. Nelius says that no matter what, this place is their home and will always be home. Even if they get family, they will always be welcome home.
“It is hard for the government to help us now, especially after COVID. We have had issues getting diapers and medicine. Now we depend on what we get from well-wishers who pass by to help. We are very fortunate and thank God that we have never missed having food. The medicine and diapers run out but by his Grace, we don’t lack food,” said Ms. Nelius.
To donate or send support to Hope & Faith Home for Special needs children to contact Ms. Nelius on 0700793702.
By Dianne Patience.