Our second story on the impact of COVID-19 on our children and their families will focus on Monica Saida, a child with intellectual disability who joined Hands of Love three years ago. Monica lives with her mum and two siblings in a one room house in Kariobangi.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, children with disabilities like Monica faced reduced access to services such education as well as discrimination and exposure to abuse. The current crisis has only served to sharpen existing difficulties.
Monica needs around the clock care, when the schools were closed her mum had to stop working as a manual laborer to take care of her. This has severely impacted the family. They have only been able to get by through support provided by Hands of Love.
The mum says that the closure of school and the resultant change to and loss of structure and routines has taken a heavy toll on Monica. She reports that Monica doesn’t seem to understand and hasn’t coped with the disruption. Spending more time at home – in cramped conditions without regular exercise – has also caused her physical form to deteriorate.
For the last three months we have been taking a critical look at our activities to ensure that they are inclusive and our children with disabilities are not left behind. In Monica’s case, our special needs education teacher Lucy has worked with Monica’s mum to develop a personalised education plan, teaching and learning strategies, offered advice on behavior management and developed stimulation activities. We provided the mum with a cheap smartphone through which the teacher sends resources and instructions on WhatsApp. These interventions are helping keep Monica active and learning.