Giving back to the community is an important part of humanity and as such every business and organization. As part of our CSR program for GO HUB magazine and Delga Sacco, some of the members of the GO Hub community and the Sacco visited Compassionate Hands for the Disabled Foundation located in Ruai on the 16th of December 2017.
Compassionate Hands for the Disabled Foundation was started 9 years ago in 2008, in the slum area of Korogocho for children with disabilities. These were orphans and other vulnerable children from extremely poor families abandoned or orphaned through HIV/AIDS .The home is now serving 85 children ranging from 4 to 21 years of age with special needs that range from mental to physical disabilities. The home initially started as a daycare but as the days passed, the number kept growing exponentially. Just recently they managed to move to a bigger and better space in Ruai. This was necessitated by increased insecurity and the need to have a larger facility that would really feel like home. One of the biggest effects of this move is that they have since noted that the spread of diseases amongst the children through direct contact because of being congested has been reduced.
When the team arrived it was pretty chilled outside the gate but as soon as we got inside, the compound was buzzing with activity. The scene was reminiscent of visiting days in secondary school with all sorts of goodies being offloaded from various cars, especially as it was just before the Christmas period and this is when most of us get into our joy of gifting attires. We were welcomed by the founder Anne Njeri with a word of prayer. We presented them with the gifts we had brought including foodstuff, clothing items, toiletries and toys. Anne then introduced us to some of the staff, one of whom gave us a small brief of the organization and the ground rules we were to adhere to while interacting with the kids- the major one being ‘SMILE SMILE and SMILE some more’…do not stop smiling seemed to be the theme of the day.
We got an opportunity to interact with the children and it was a very touching, inspiring and out of this world experience. My expectation was that because the children had special needs -some of them were autistic, partially blind & deaf and others suffered from Cerebral Palsy (a movement disorder, caused by damage to the brain before, during or soon after birth. The ability for people with cerebral palsy to communicate effectively is often impaired by problems with speech & gestures used in communication) - they would be dull and non-interactive.
I was wrong on all levels. They were very cheerful, playful and full of life. This really made me put my life into perspective. We interacted with them for a long time. We played with them, talked to them and got to know the children’s names and backgrounds. As usual, time really flies when you are having fun and sadly since things had to come to an end, saying goodbye was the hardest part of this visit. Personally I had gotten too attached to one child and it was really disheartening to let go. It was honor to be part of this activity and we look forward to engaging more with them and not making it just a Christmas visit.
That being said, although the visit had a fun and interactive side, we also learnt that the home was experiencing challenges in its day to day operations. Some of their immediate needs included:
- Food stuff such dry cereals like beans, maize, green grams, black peas
- School uniforms and navy blue with white stripes tracksuit
- Building materials such as cement, sand, ballast, building stones etc.
- Assorted toys.
- Adult Diapers
- Animal feed
Over and above this they also have children who have to take medication daily, and these drugs are not cheap. They also have school going children who need uniform and stationery. Any assistance towards this end would be highly appreciated.
I was touched to discover that Anne the founder of the home is also disabled. Growing up, neighbors and relatives advised her mother to take her and beg for alms in the city center. Her mother did not take this route and she is thankful because her life might have been very different. With the help of a well-wisher she was instead able to go to school, finally becoming a journalist working with a radio station. It was at this job that she decided that it was her calling to start this home and help others to live with their disability as she herself had been helped years before.
She does this in collaboration with the Children’s department of Ruai who place abandoned disabled children in such homes for long term engagement. She runs the home with the aid of professionals who have been trained for this kind of work. Her vision for the children in this home is to grow them into all rounded individuals. This is achieved by the four core principles she lives by; giving them an education, therapy, medical intervention and spiritual development. Her message to us is, what matters the most is what you do for the others while you are alive. You do not have to be rich to start charity; just a simple act of kindness goes a long way. We just need to understand the language of compassion and change our attitudes.
For anybody interested in getting in touch with the home; they can be reached on the contacts below:
The Executive Director
Compassionate Hands For The Disabled
P.O. Box 13761 – 400, Nairobi
Telephone: +254 725 982 882/ +254 723 859 947
(Off Eastern Bypass Highway, Next to St. Joseph Catholic Church (Ruai))