Parents of deaf children fault state for neglecting them – The Star, Kenya

Parents of children with hearing disabilities have raised a concern about being neglected by the county and the national governments.
On Monday, the parents launched Pamoja Parents for Deaf, a community-based organisation, to create awareness in Mombasa.
Ann Otum, the CBO’s organising secretary, said the new organisation will, among other things, offer counselling, support, as well as agitate for the rights of the affected children.
“We want to create awareness. Some of us parents hide our children who have disabilities because of the fear of being stigmatised,” she said.
“We have come together so that we get encouraged, learn to accept our situation and devise ways to help ourselves and the kids.”
She spoke during the launch of the new CBO at Ziwani School for the Deaf in Tudor area of Mombasa.
Mombasa gubernatorial candidate Abdulswamad Nassir launched the CBO by flagging off a procession of the parents at Tononoka Grounds.
The parents did an awareness walk in Tononoka, Sabasaba and Ziwani areas, before meeting at Ziwani School for the Deaf. 
Florence Kasichana, a parent with a deaf child, said their children go through so much suffering in schools, hospitals and other institutions because they cannot communicate well with normal people.
“We are asking for more translators in schools and hospitals. We also need more schools to be built around so that they can access education without necessarily travelling far,” Kasichana said. 
Mombasa county has no secondary school for the deaf. The nearest such schools are in Kwale and Kilifi counties.
The parents also asked for more allocation of bursaries for their children’s education, so that they can get better jobs like other children. 
Stella Anyanzwa, a mother of four children – all of them deaf, faulted the government for neglecting her children, even after doing everything required to get help.
Anyanzwa is a house help, a job she said earns her little income.
Her husband, Daniel Anyanzwa, has no job, she said.
Regardless, the two have struggled to raise their four children. Two are in a college in Migori and the other two are in primary school. 
The mother said that the people and particularly Mombasa county have shunned her children and others living with other disabilities, a thing that has made their burden heavier than it already is.
“My husband and I have several times gone to CDF offices to seek help but we have got none so far. It’s only recently that we were given a bursary of Sh4,000. What’s Sh4, 000 in this economy with four disabled children? It didn’t really help,” Anyanzwa said.
“I know there is money set aside for the people living with disabilities, but we don’t get the money. I have been shoved from one office to another trying to get help for my children until I gave up and left everything to God.”
The emotional mother said her son missed an opportunity to go to Brazil to play basketball because she could not raise the bus fare from Migori, where he studies, to Nairobi.
She pleaded with President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and help her family and other children with similar challenges before he leaves office.
Meanwhile, Daniel Anyanzwa, the father of the four children and Stella’s husband, said he was neglected and chased by the family when he sired children with disability. 
“My people don’t help. They didn’t even allocate me a portion of our ancestral land, and that forced me to move to town to stay with my children in a rental house. The house is so small and the children are all grown,” he said.
Daniel said communication with his children is a challenge, though the children have taught him sign language over time. 
He requested the government to start a training centre for the parents of children with disabilities so that they can learn sign language and other ways to best take care of them.
Mildred Siguda, another parent of a child with a disability, said that Kenya’s education system discriminates against children with special needs.
“These children do the same exam as the other children, and they perform very poorly in comparison to the normal children. These children can’t even speak, they communicate through signs and you tell them to write a composition. They can’t,” Siguda said.
Mohammed Tenge, Coast region’s Azimio la Umoja coordinator, who accompanied Nassir to the CBO’s launch promised to push the parents’ needs to the President.
“We have listened to the cries of the parents and in the coming government, we will work with the national and Mombasa county government to build a secondary school for the disabled in Mombasa,” Tenge said.
He also urged the government to help such children throughout the country and help them get equal education and job opportunities.
Meanwhile, Nassir promised to support various initiatives and programmes to better the lives of the people living with disabilities.
“I am also learning sign language. In the incoming government, nobody will be left behind. God created us all.  Let’s not be divided by tribe, religion, or disability,” he said.
The MP encouraged the children with disabilities to aim to do the best they can in their career paths, without allowing their disability to determine their fate.
“It’s not a must that a person with a disability should only learn courses meant for such people. They can learn any craft, any skill,” Nassir said.
(edited by Amol Awuor)
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