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Sense International marks Day of the African Child

15 June 2020

Today marks the Day of the African Child (16 June) which aims to raise awareness of the situation of children in African.

Sense International operates in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in Africa, supporting children with deafblindness and their families with education and early intervention. During the current COVID-19 outbreak this support is needed more than ever.

Below are just a few examples of how the families we support have been impacted by the crisis and what Sense International is doing to support them.

Asha - Tanzania

3-year old Asha was receiving early intervention therapy thanks to Sense International’s partnership with the Ministry of Health. She was born weighing only 2kg and had to receive oxygen support for two weeks after being born. Since then doctors have noticed that Asha has delayed growth milestones and cannot yet follow a moving object with her eyes. She also has convulsions.

The occupational therapist trained by Sense International worked with Asha on sensory stimulation and her physical development. As part of this, Asha’s mother was trained to provide therapy to her daughter at home - she follows exercises to relax Asha’s muscles and then she teaches her child how to grip objects and sit on her modified chair.

Thanks to the continued therapy Asha is now able to perform a full arm stretch which she was previously unable to do. She can reach her face and also grab objects with some support. However, she has not yet learned to coordinate her vision or her fine motor skills.

Like many children with disabilities, Asha was unfortunately abandoned by her father due to the stigma associated with disability and she now lives with her mother and grandparents. Asha’s mother grows vegetables in the family garden and used to sell them in the local market, while the grandparents took care of Asha. However, demand and the purchasing power of many buyers has declined as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, so the family now have to survive on a reduced income. This makes it difficult for them to buy the essential medicines Asha needs. 

A child walking along while a woman holds his handSospeter – Kenya

You might remember Sospeter and his mother Tabby from our Chance To Shine Appeal.

Sospeter is 4-years old and has been receiving support from Sense International trained physiotherapist. With the help of our project, he has also been fitted with hearing aids.

When we contacted Sospeter’s mother, Tabby, about COVID-19 she told us that a loss of income means they have been struggling to afford food and are unable to pay for the anti-seizure drugs Sospeter needs as he has epilepsy.

How Sense International is helping

As a priority, our eight global locations are telephoning families to pass on accessible messages about how to stay safe during this crisis. In some countries, we are adapting programmes to deliver emergency food and hygiene packages to people with deafblindness. Though some governments are trying to help with food distribution, in Uganda, India and Peru our staff told us that people with deafblindness are not getting anything. In these cases, our beneficiaries only have us to turn to.

In order to help Asha’s and Sospeter’s families we’ve applied to the Department for International Development’s (DFID) ‘Rapid Response Fund’ to be able to help with food and medicines. We’re hoping to hear back about our application soon.

You can also donate to our emergency appeal which will help us to support children with deafblindness and their families across the globe. Donate today at https://senseinternational.org.uk/emergency

 

First published: Tuesday 18 June 2013
Last updated: Friday 6 December 2019