“I want to be ‘ME'”: dreams of disabled children

When most of us imagine the disabled children we support, we tend not to think of their dreams. My visit this month to Kenya and Tanzania gave me the opportunity to engage with some of the young lives in their own realities at home and in the classroom. And I can attest that their optimisms and ambitions are thrilling!

Too often our visual image is of a young victim, and we from afar in the UK and the USA often remain musing sombre statistics. Like the 98 percent of disabled children out of school in Sub Saharan Africa, and the girls who experience abuse three times more than their peers. With all due respect for these concerns, it is equally worth celebrating the go-getting minds of the individuals on the other side of the percentage signs.

As I settle back into London, I convey to the AbleChildAfrica office the visions of some of the children in Kenya and Tanzania. Some were verbally expressed, some signed to me, and others gathered through animated gestures. “I want to be a dancer!” / “…a lawyer” / “a policewoman” / “a pilot” / “a mechanic” / “a teacher” / “…a musician” / “a doctor! / “I want to be… ‘me’!” Consequently I’m bringing back a world they know exists and functions where ‘disability is not an inability’[i].

Sav's visit - Little Rock
Ralph*, 9 (left) studies alongside other deaf children who have become his best friends at our partner school in Kibera: the group dream of being pilots when they are older.

We, the AbleChildAfrica family have no shortage of understanding for that world and,  whilst leaders across the world plan on how to make United Nations inclusive education goals a reality, we continue to be years ahead – not only pioneering projects for inclusion but in allowing the children we work with to be innovators for their vision.

Waiting for a flight home at a two-room airport in rural Tanzania, I shared a coffee with my colleague Lauren Watters, who was also returning from seeing our work in Uganda, where local children have directly helped get “400 disabled children into school” [ii]. Sipping her drink, she smiled, telling me “I feel hopeful… because I’ve seen radical changes in the last 2 years… what we do works!” And now also working in Rwanda with local youth mentoring younger disabled children, AbleChildAfrica is determined to broaden the ripples of success.

Sav's visit - CST
Aaliyah*, 4, has hydrocephalus. Having joined our partner school in Mbeya, Tanzania just a month ago she has shown significant developmental progress. Her mother tells us “Every day Aaliyah is really excited about school. I’m having problems because she wants to come to school every day!” (Credit: M Rahhal, Photographers Without Borders 2016)

As we celebrate triumphs in helping disabled children in Sub Saharan Africa grow into confident adults and the future of tomorrow, we remind you that you can get involved to help us further strengthen our work! You can make a donation which will be invested so that this year we can reach countless more disabled children. Even let us know if your workplace would like to get involved, we’d be delighted to have your company be a part of future stories. Or you can simply follow @AbleChildAfrica on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn and spread the word on social media and beyond.

We look forward, with you, to making their dreams stay true and to help them stay true to their dreams too.

 

*Names and images may have been changed to protect privacy

 

Guest written by Savraj Kaur, Fundraising Development Manager

You can contact Savraj at savraj@ablechildafrica.org / +44 (0)207 793 4144.

 

[i] Motto of AbleChildAfrica’s partner school in Mbeya, Tanzania

[ii] Uganda DFID project

 

 

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