NGO Unveils Stigma-Free Campaign For Children With Disabilities

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PHOTO COURTESY@HELPING HAND ORGANISATION

BY KNA, Absalom Namwalo

Helping Hands (Pwani), a charitable organization based in Mombasa has launched an anti-stigma campaign against children with disabilities and jiggers in Teso North.

The organization is distributing wheelchairs and sanitary towels to school-going children.

Speaking at Isegeretoto primary school the director of the organization Habib Hakim said the society tended to overlook children with disability as they were left to crawl to school or stay back while their peers continue with education thus depriving them of their basic rights.

“Children with disabilities are among the most neglected groups in the country. The majority of these children face enormous economic and social barriers that have an adverse impact on their physical, social, and intellectual development and well-being,” he noted.

According to Helping Hand Pwani, jiggers on the other hand have widened the scope of stigmatization among school going with those worst hit being forced to drop out or resort to traditional methods of treating jiggers.

“In Kenya, many children cannot afford an item as expensive as a wheelchair, leaving thousands of disabled children without mobility and without hope. Most of these children will not attend school and they do not have access to formal education, thus disabling them even further,” explained Hakim.

The organization now wants the government to relinquish taxes imposed on charitable aid destined to help the vulnerable communities in the country to enable them to empower more in society.

“Donations worth millions of shillings are stuck abroad after the government started taxing charitable donations even as the less privileged continue to face the challenges that can be addressed,” noted Hakim.

According to Kareem Mohamed the co-founder of the NGO, the majority of disability groups in Kenya depend on donations, especially wheelchairs, hospital beds, and sanitary pads, and now with imposed taxes most humanitarian organizations’ operations are paralyzed.

This sentiment was echoed by Teso North MP Oku Kaunya who challenged the government through National Assembly to enact a law that will allow all humanitarian organizations making donations to be exempt from taxation.

“The pervasive stigma, lack of resources and accessibility are also daunting obstacles that derail the progress of the majority of persons with disabilities in society. The government must support NGOs as they act as an equalizer to the most vulnerable in society,” said Hon. Kaunya.

Helping Hand Pwani donated 10 wheelchairs, and in collaboration with KMTC treated over 500 people with jiggers with the majority being school-going.

Also, over 200 girls were gifted with sanitary pads and soaps to boost their education amid a high poverty index that has led to teenage pregnancies in the area.

“The rate at which girls in Teso North are dropping out is alarming. That is why we also want to partner with our girls to block vultures targeting to end their education dreams,” noted Kareem.

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