Baraka Self Help Group, Nairobi
BarakaSelf-helpSchool for the Disabled Kawangware , Nairobi
Baraka (Blessing) Self Help Group was founded in 2002 with the sole purpose of giving care and support to the disabled, orphans and vulnerable children.The Baraka centre is situated in Kawangware slums of Nairobi.
The initiation of this Self Help group was spearheaded by Sister Valentine Achieng, a mother of a disabled child who brought together fellow parents who were struggling with similar cases, with the intention of helping them and their disabled children. After coming together, the parents identified their areas of need which included the following:
- Rehabilitation and physiotherapy services
- Medical care
- Education support
- Parental care-giver training
- Social counseling support
- Income generating activities
- Mobility aids
Over the years, membership has gone up, both for parents and guardians and the children, 51 and 133 respectively. These are children who are basically disabled, orphaned and needy. Currently, the centre has grown to having its own primary school, secondary school and a special unit that deals with needy children and orphans in exceptionally limited space.
Apart from formal education, the older students and parents are given education on sexuality and HIV/AIDS, voluntary counselling and testing and prevention education.
The parents in the group has been supporting the centre by making monthly and weekly contributions, engaging in income generating activities, organising for home visits and procuring physiotherapy for the disabled children. Through these, the centre has made a large difference in the lives of the disabled children and their families.
The centre recognizes the power of unity and has therefore been working in conjunction with hospitals and other centres that deal with children issues. The hospitals try to support the centre through making food donations and treating sick children, while other centres provide a limited amount of school materials.
With regard to abandoned children, the group works with the government’s children department and area chief where it helps to link the children up with their extended families or community members to look after them.
However, no such a feat is without challenges. The poverty-riddled life in a slum coupled with HIV/AIDS pandemic aggravates the situation. Other challenges include transport, housing and rejection. The centre currently operates on a two-roomed rented space and sometimes, paying rent is a problem.
Priority needs include:
- Rehabilitation rooms for physiotherapy, speech and occupational therapy.
- An office (currently Ms. Achieng’s room is being used as the office)
- A kitchen and store
- Latrines and bathrooms
- Special classrooms
- Counseling room
- Provision of quality medical services to the children
- School materials