The issue surrounding single parents with disabled children…In May 2015, things took another turn and change for the childrens fund. With the arrival of our first special needs child Esther… Now in January 2016 our family has grown quite a bit as you will see from the photo below! 🙂
One day a mother and daughter appeared at the childrens home, and begged us for some help…. The pair we now know as Esther, and Mama Esther.. 🙂
Esther is 3 years old and she has cerebral palsy. When the mother and daughter arrived at the home, to our utter disbelief they were homeless, and had been since Esther was born, and her father abandoned them.The full story of Esther and her mother can be seen on the monthly blog for June 2015 “You don’t have to seee the whole staircase, just take the first step.”… http://uchirachildrensfund.org/blog/In Tanzania single parents, or indeed 2 parent families with disabled children like Esther, have little to no support. There are no benefits, no welfare etc this leaves parents becoming isolated from society and often living well below the $1 a day poverty line… This in turn sadly, is why there are special care facilities all over Tanzania filled with children like Esther, who have been abandoned, or separated from their parents as they could not cope or earn money to eat whilst caring for a special needs child 24 hours a day…Separating Esther from her mother, was actually the only option available to the pair….. which in turn was not an option, as the bond and love Mama Esther has for her daughter is like most mothers love, utterly awe inspiring and dare we say unbreakable.
Our vision, and the solution…
With in two weeks of meeting Esther and her mother, we had already made a decision, and with it gave birth to a solution for single parents with disabled children in East Africa.
The solution is a simple one, a community dedicated to those with disabilities and their parents… the first house of which was built with in 2 weeks of meeting Esther and her mum… The benefits of such a community are endless for the guardians and children alike…
- Having a small community where parents with special needs children can live with one another is initially a way for both the parent/guardians to have support from one another, given they are sharing in the same experiences in life to some degree.
- Like wise, the children who never get to socialize with other special needs children, have daily interactions with others in the same position physically and mentally as they are…
- When parents need to do simple tasks, perhaps wash clothing, go shopping, cook or even work… then they are surrounded by people who are qualified to care for a special needs child, people who have the patience and understanding to care for such children, given they too are the parents and guardians of a child with special needs.
- The communal building allows for education, play and socializing to take place, where it otherwise would not. We helped a child named Anna with a mental disability in April 2015, she has spent 12 years sitting in the mud outside her parents mud hut, never once receiving any stimulus or chance to socialize, other than with her parents.. (when they had time given they were always laboring to provide food and rent..)
- The childrens funds social worker can keep a constant check on the children, and their guardians to ensure their well being both mentally and physically.
- Children don’t need to separated from mothers that love them.
- As the community will be placed next to the children’s home, emergency transport for medical issues is always available, where as with out it most children are close to an hour from a hospital, at night time that could be 8 hours +, as all our residents would have to wait for the public transport to start.
- Children receive physio, wheelchairs, sensory stimulation.. rather than being left on the floor somewhere.. ( as is the only option to most families..)
- There are many more benefits, but these are key… lastly an perhaps more importantly, finally single parents with such children will have an option, and hopefully in time less special needs children will be abandoned here by desperate parents in need of help…
- To build a community of small houses on the land next to our childrens home.
- To build one communal building (classroom) with in the center of those homes.
- To have a community where every resident is a guardian of a special needs child, or adult.
- To provide nutritional support, medical support and emotional and physical support for those living within the community, with our childrens fund and home.
- To have one member of staff from the childrens fund oversee the sharing of duties by parents within the community… to ensure all jobs are shared justly, fairly and equally and to each others liking. Be it watching one another’s children, cooking, cleaning or any of the countless other duties parents have to deal with.Pictured below is Esther and Mama Esther (Teddy)… Also pictured is the first house of the community built in June 2015 thanks to a fund raiser coffee morning held in the UK!How to help?
- Building a house? For £1500 we can add an additional house to the community…
- We still need to raise £7500.00 for our communal building/classroom
- Sponsoring a child and family (please visit the family for child sponsorship page)
- Sensory, toys, lights equipment donations…
- Unskilled and skilled volunteering, here with us in Uchira!
- Fundraising! As mentioned this project began with a coffee morning in the UK…!
Finally we would like to end this page with a quote from John’s blog he wrote as this project began….
“I said this in my facebook post about this, but i must say it again… Iv not the money to build a communal building, iv not the money to build another house even…. I’m not even sure we have the money to pay the upcoming medical bills for such children…. but what i do have is faith. Faith that it is meant to happen, faith that God does not give me empty dreams and signs, as following them thus far has been the greatest, and perhaps only worthwhile achievement in my 30 years of life here on earth.
A great many miraculous things have happened in my life the last few years, and each time I have adhered to a few rules that life taught to me….
One is that “what” is our business, and “how” is not…. that part is up to the universe…. so in this instance the what is this community for children like Esther and their parents……. how… well, I will have to wait and see to write that part…
The next is an idea, and way to live life…. a saying i know very much sums this up….
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step…”
With this in mind, and in my heart…. I have taken the first step toward what…….. and I shall await for the how’s to arrange themselves as they wish,or will….
Again Iv no idea what the staircase looks like, Iv no idea if steps are missing, if it will be lit all the way… and how often i will stumble, trip or fall…
But what i do know, is when i do trip, when i do stumble and when i do fall….
That as always, someone or something will be there to catch me, to pick me up, dust me off and to lovingly whisper to me…. take another step, and try again….
The same someone who carefully placed that dream of building houses in my mind a few weeks ago, to shine a light on the next step of the staircase…”
Thank you for taking the time to hear about what will be East Africa’s first single parent special needs childrens community. We hope you share in our dream and vision regarding the problems surrounding families with special needs children here in rural Tanzania.