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Heavy burden caring for disabled children

Written by Omondi Gwengi

The past decade has not been easy for Monica Atieno.

She has been walking from one hospital to another with hope that her now 10 year old daughter would live a normal life like her other siblings.

Mary Achieng, the second born in a family of three, was born without any complication.

“Even though my predicted time of delivery delayed by a whole day, I finally gave birth to my daughter without any complication,” she tells Reject adding that she developed health problem two days later.


Atieno, a resident of Usenge market in Bondo, says that upon developing the complication, the nurses gave the baby 12 injections of quinine- something that made her annoyed with the nurses.

“I decided to transfer my daughter to Nyanza Provincial General Hospital in Kisumu city, where we were admitted for one month,” she adds. 

Atieno ,who now bears double tragedy of taking care of the disabled child and neglect by her husband, says that she once took her for physiotherapy at Nyabondo Mission Hospital, in Nyakach, Kisumu County, but withdrew her due to the high cost of the service.

“I was unable to raise Sh700 per day which was required and therefore decided to try Bondo District Hospital which had no physiotherapist by then,” she says.

In order to have her daughter live a good life, Atieno has to dig deeper into her pocket to a house help to take care of the child as she goes to work.

“It is very challenging to get a house help who understands the condition of the child. Some would abandon the child while some leave them hungry,” she tells Reject adding that whenever she gets a loan, part of it goes to the upkeep of the child.


A few kilometers from Atieno’s house, Milka Adhiambo tries to come to terms with the condition of her 13 year old impaired daughter who can neither walk nor talk but has the ability to respond to signs.

Adhiambo, a mother of four and a guardian to five other orphans, says that with the burden involved in fending for the family, they have been unable to take their daughter to school and therefore appeals to any well wisher who would come to her aid.

In the middle of the interview with Adhiambo, her daughter presses a remote control to tune into her favourite TV channel.

Her mother says, “She cannot walk but is able to even play cards with other children.”

Among the homes visited by Reject in Bondo, all with similar tales that portray the burden of caring for the children with disability, poverty and ignorance is to blame.

In Ugingo village, Dorine Abuoro was unable to pay Sh.9, 000 school fees for her mentally challenged grandchild, Erick Sewe, 20.

She says that Sewe was born in good health but developed complications six months later when they noticed a strange behavior of touching his own feaces.

Abuoro, who is unaware of the funds for persons with disability, says that her grandchild is now able to speak after spending 11 years at Maranda Special School, but would wish to see him go to school and get quality education like other children. 

Margaret Oketch, MCA representing persons with disability in Siaya County, says they have realised that many impaired children are hidden at home and given sub standard education and medical care.

 “Some families hide these children out of shame and discrimination. We have therefore embarked on a programme of rescuing these children and we are also reminding their parents hey have rights just like any other children,” she says.


Ms Oketch has therefore called on well wishers to supplement government efforts to assist such special cases.

In a recent interview with Reject when she visited a child living with disabilities in Bondo, Oketch expressed concern over their involvement in selection of committee members and beneficiaries in various kitties that persons with disabilities have a stake in.

“We have observed that in some of these kitties, persons with disability have been selected as beneficiaries or to sit in some committees without their involvement,” she says.

Ms Oketch also said that some of the severely disabled persons are left out from benefiting in the government’s kitty of persons with server disability yet others who do not qualify are the ones benefiting. 

“This is caused by the fact that as leaders of various groups of persons with disability, we are not involved in the process of selecting such people,” she notes.


 This article was originally published in the Reject Newspaper Issue 96

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