The project “I have something to say” is a project from my heart. One of those projects which allows you to keep in mind that life is worth living.
Through the eyes of these children with specific needs you remember that we don’t need to bring something amazing, something special to be helpful …Time spent with them- playing, working, paying attention to them- is enough to receive recognition. One smile, one expression, one word received from them brings you happiness.
This project is part of the Health Start program which is designed & based on the Kenya National School Health Policy by the Ministry of Public Health & Sanitation and Ministry of Education. It is a comprehensive School Health and Nutrition programme supporting the Health and Education of school children with the aim of improving Child Health and Educational Outcomes in Primary Schools in Western Kenya, Kisumu County.
The program is being piloted in two primary schools – Rabuor and Ombeyi – impacting 2000 school-going children. It is envisaged that the program will significantly contribute towards enhancing the quality of healthcare in the two pilot school communities by creating a healthy and child-friendly environment for teaching and learning.
The strategic intervention areas are:
Values and life skills – Gender issues – Child rights, Child Protection and Responsibilities – Water, Sanitation and Hygiene – Nutrition – Disease prevention and control – Special needs, disabilities and rehabilitation – School infrastructure and environmental safety
My project will be focused on the point “Special needs, disabilities and rehabilitation” in Rabuor school. This school has a Special Unit class with 15 children and adults with specific needs aged from 11 to 27 years. They are divided into 3 groups
- Teach educable : Children who are able to be educated : reading – writing and mathematical skills
- ADL level: Activities related to daily living – How to take care of ourselves?
- Pre vocational group: Developing life skills
My personal objectives of this project are focused on two axes:
- Develop a tool for children with specific needs who are not able to communicate orally and which will allow them to improve their capabilities to communicate by using pictograms.
- There’s nothing more frustrating for a person than not be able to say what he/she thinks. This book will be specific as it will be created by children with their pictures and will be focused on their needs and daily activities. In addition, a poster will be made to highlight the steps of “How to take care of our body”.
- Put in place a sewing shop in order to teach these children additional skills for the future and to increase their autonomy. We made “a deal” with the teachers and the headmaster: The sewing shop will be put in place on the condition that we work TOGETHER with all the teachers. As a first stage, we plan to teach the girls how to make sanitary towel which could be useful for all of the girls at school.
One of my KEY learnings here in Kisumu is that to keep a project sustainable, the teaching staff must be actively involved with activity and ‘own’ the implementation of the process into the Special Needs children’s curriculum.
In agreement with the headmaster, this sewing shop will be located in the same room as the library… a nice and big room but which will require a lot of work – cleaning – tidying up – reorganization etc.
Immaculate , Peris and Caroline, are the 3 teachers that are actively involved with all the children in this Special Unit class helping to make miracles with nothing, working in hard conditions and with a minimum of materials.
The pictogram book and sewing shop are 2 ongoing projects and will be put in place in January after Christmas holidays.
Thanks to my colleague Joerg Mayer (Jojo) for his precious help, he is a talented photographer and without him this book would not have been as successfully realised.
For ending this blog, I would like to thank all my GSK colleagues based in Kisumu for their help and support. We are lucky to have a great team here.