As we celebrate Universal Children’s Day (UCD), children with special needs require more attention now more than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a threat to children’s well-being.

“Now that most schools are closed, children with special needs do not have the right infrastructure such as the government support they used to receive, wheelchairs and latrines,” the ChildFund Kenya Emali and Kajiado Program Coordinator, Cyprian Muriuki told Parents Magazine.

Children with special needs are also lacking caregivers who can fully pay attention to them and their needs. This is because most parents’ priority is to go out and fend for their children. Due to the harsh economic times occasioned by Covid-19, they cannot be able to employ a caregiver for their children.

Stephen Kimanthi's caregivers rearing some goats at their Emali home. [Source: ChildFund Kenya]

To bridge this loophole, Emali Dedicated Children’s Agency in conjunction with ChildFund Kenya has launched a program in Nzaui and Mashuuru sub-counties, to support 3511 children, 32 of which have different special needs. The organization recognizes their plight and has embarked on projects that are expected to ensure such children are protected from the dangers that they find themselves in especially during this COVID-19 crisis.

“We are focusing on post-Covid. We are providing 1200 households with at least two goats so that once they give birth, they can sell them and pay school fees,” Cyprian noted.

The livestock will also come in handy in supporting children with special needs which will ensure families and children are protected sustainably.

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The Emali-based organization has also supported the families with Universal Health Cards which are fully-paid for one year. This is expected to go a long way towards ensuring all the children in such households are fully covered in case of health emergencies and referrals.

Since Emali is a dry area, malnutrition is a common problem. Therefore, Emali Dedicated Children’s Agency is encouraging the residents to do farming so that once they harvest the food, they can feed their families and sell the surplus.

“We have provided the residents with seedlings and the necessary training so that they can have maximum output. But the community will also contribute by doing the farming themselves, watering and looking for the market. We want to put them in groups so that they can market among themselves and also loan each other to support household activities,” Cyprian explained.

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Featured Image: 17-year-old Stephen Kimanthi, who is a special needs child in class seven, with his caregivers in their home in Emali. [Source: ChildFund Kenya]

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