THE BLOG

Helping Deafblind Children in Kenya and Uganda Build a Future

10/06/2015 11:09 BST | Updated 10/06/2016 10:59 BST

In Kenya and Uganda children who are both deaf and blind face huge challenges. Many are literally hidden away from the world around them, as parents struggle to understand what is wrong with their child or how to communicate with them while dealing with the social stigma of raising a disabled child.

Grace, aged five, has multi-sensory impairments as well as cerebral palsy, and has been involved with Sense International in its community support programme since the age of two.

Grace currently attends physiotherapy sessions twice a week at Kilimani deafblind unit, supported by Sense International. She also does pre-school activities, which includes learning communication skills, numeracy, literacy, social skills and developing mobility skills. Physically she has grown stronger and is able to communicate through touch and objects of reference.

Another girl to benefit from Sense International intervention is Magdaline Nangila. When we first started working with seven-year-old Maggy she was isolated, frail and underweight. She was also unable to walk, feed herself or communicate with her family. Today, Maggy attends the deafblind unit of the Sense International supported Kilimani School. She can walk and feed herself independently and is learning to communicate with her family and other children at school. Her family no longer feels overwhelmed with Maggy's condition.

Deafblind children like Grace and Maggy often remain hidden away from the local community to avoid social stigma. If a deafblind child is not identified they may not receive the medical help they need and are likely to be malnourished. They may be unable to communicate, or attend school to gain a vital education. They may be isolated within their community, and their family may face a greater risk of poverty. It doesn't need to be this way.

Today Sense International launched its Finding Grace appeal to raise funds for a pioneering programme to screen 300,000 infants in Kenya and Uganda for deafblindness. We want to ensure that deafblind children are identified and supported - for the very first time. Between 10 June and 10 September the UK government will match donations to the campaign pound for pound to allow us to find more children like Grace. There has never been a better time to support the work of Sense International.

Help us spread the word via social media using the hashtag #FindingGrace