In many Kenyan communities, children with special needs are often branded a curse on a family, evil spirits, or an act of witchcraft. This means they are hidden from public view, and aren't able to be seen in the community for fear of abuse and harm. Their families dream of their children being able to go to school and be like other children. However, there are very few specialised centres in Kenya for these children to learn and develop and mainstream schools will not accept them. The few available centres are often expensive and for children living in a rural village, are simply not an option. Children with special needs are often neglected, left on their own most days, and hidden inside as parents are ashamed and worried about what society will say about their family.
CMEP's House of Hope is a completely free centre for children with special needs to attend during normal school hours and be cared for by a trained special needs carer. At the House of Hope, children receive love, meals, basic education, a chance to bathe and wash their clothing, and learn basic life skills so they are able to become part of the community.
So why did we start the House of Hope and where did the idea come from?
One day in the middle of 2017, Zoe and Lauren were walking with their host mum Mary when they asked her about special needs within the community. Mary informed the girls she only knew of one girl with special needs, a girl named Jane. The girls went to visit Jane and her family and upon hearing her horrific story knew they needed to do something. After many sleepless nights, the plan to open the House of Hope was made.
From that day on, Zoe, Lauren, Mary, and Jackson worked tirelessly to open the House of Hope. This meant sourcing a building, renovations of the building, adding toilets, finding supplies and staff, but most importantly, they had to find the students.
To help parents of children with special needs feel safe to bring their children to the House of Hope, Lauren organised Dr George Sane to come and run a community education session on special needs and their causes. As a result, the House of Hope's enrolment list began to grow very quickly. At this point, there are six children at the House of Hope, however, many more are on a waiting list. The children are waiting for various reasons, including requiring another carer, living too far away, or requiring boarding/daily transport due to their physical disabilities.
Until we can find more permanent funding it is unlikely that we will be able to accept these students.
CMEP's House of Hope is walking on eggshells. We are currently relying on donations from the community and are working on a month-month basis. We have not secured long-term funding for this project and if you could assist in any way, please get in contact as soon as possible. An entire year of wages is only $2,000 NZD, rent is only $800 NZD, and food & supplies is only $2,000 NZD for one year. To operate the centre, it is only $4,800 NZD ($4,600 AUD) for an entire year. Can you help us?
In all the work we do to support children with special needs there is one over-riding goal – to give them the same opportunities as any other child.