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Sense International calls on public support in Finding Grace

10 June 2015

Sense International has today (10 June 2015) launched its Finding Grace appeal to raise funds for a pioneering programme to screen 300,000 infants in Kenya and Uganda for deafblindness. To support the appeal, the Department for International Development (DFID) will match, pound for pound, every donation made between 10 June and 10 September 2015.

Donate nowIn 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. The appeal will support a programme of early identification and intervention to improve children’s life chances, the first of its kind in Kenya and Uganda.

The appeal is named after one of the Sense International’s success stories, five year old Grace from Kenya. Grace 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.

Grace’s father, Geoffrey Mwangi, says: “If Grace had stayed at home, she wouldn’t even have been able to sit on her own, she would not have been able to do anything, because we as parents wouldn’t know what to do. I can now see her doing things like any other person, through the assistance of Sense International. I can see a future for Grace – I know she will do something good.”

Another girl to benefit from Sense International intervention is Magdaline Nangila. When the charity 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.

Director of Sense International, James Thornberry, said:  “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.

James Thornberry continued: “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.

“This UK Aid Match opportunity means Sense International can double the impact of public donations which will be used to establish early intervention and screening services in Kenya and Uganda for the very first time. There has never been a better time to support our work.”

International Development Secretary, Justine Greening, said: “Sense International is a small charity making a big difference. By identifying sensory impairments as early as possible they ensure deafblind children in the developing world are not sentenced to a life of isolation.

“By matching all public donations to the Finding Grace appeal pound for pound, we will help thousands of children born with sensory impairments in Kenya and Uganda get the medical and educational support they need. That means helping them to communicate and look after themselves, and ultimately ensuring they have the best chance of a happy future.”

Media enquiries

For enquiries about Sense International, please contact Laura Brown at the Sense International press office on 020 7014 9381 or 07770 580 843 out of hours or email laura.brown@sense.org.uk.

Notes to Editors

Between 10 June and 10 September, the UK Government will match donations to the campaign pound for pound to allow Sense International to carry out vital early identification work.

Sense International is a global charity supporting deafblind people in Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Tanzania, Peru, Romania and Uganda. We are one of the world’s leading international organisations working for deafblind people and their families.

Matching your donations with UK aidAbout UK Aid Match

UK Aid Match was set up by the UK government's Department for International Development (DFID) to give a boost to public support for charities working in the developing world. It doubles public donations to appeals run by British international development charities, in recognition of both the public’s generosity and the wide range of causes they support. For more information, see the UK government website.

 

First published: Tuesday 18 June 2013
Last updated: Wednesday 11 October 2017