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Mwana's story

Thursday, 8 June, 2017

At 12 years old, Mwana is an orphan who is deafblind. Mwana’s parents passed away when she was just 6 years old, leaving her and her brother Haasan Hamisi with their Grandmother, also called Mwana Juma, who lives in the district of Kwale.

Amongst a backdrop of economic difficulties in the rural county, compounded by the continued stigma surrounding disability in Kenya, their Grandmother thought taking care of a girl with deafblindness was a curse. Mwana would often just lie down as she had very little strength.

Woman assists young girl in walkingYoung children like Mwana should be at their peak of curiosity, learning and experimenting with life. However, without the necessary help, deafblindness can prove to be both frustrating and debilitating, often leading to isolation.

Since joining the Community Based Education (CBE) programme provided by SI and supported by the Big Lottery Fund, the Programme Officer for SI Kenya who often visits and follows Mwana’s progress, reported a remarkable improvement in Mwana’s development over the last six months. This improvement stemmed from her Grandmother’s change in attitude and the progress she has made with her support teacher, Mwana Hamisi.

After receiving counselling from SI, Mwana’s Grandmother was able to increase her understanding about deafblindness and learn not only Mwana’s limitations, but also the capabilities that a child with deafblindness has. Furthermore, with video training provided through a tablet device she received, she has been able to support the progress and development of Mwana more than ever. SI Kenya staff have noticed a greater confidence in Mwana’s Grandmothers ability to take care of her needs, allowing Mwana to receive support on a more regular basis.

Mwana’s Grandmother said:

“The video training was extremely helpful, now I know there are other children like Mwana. I watch the videos and copy what the teachers are doing, for example massaging”

Smiling woman plays with young smiling girl watched by another smiling girlMwana also has a support teacher, Mwana Hamisi, who has been visiting the home since 2014, the year when SI Kenya started being supported by BLF to deliver CBE. She received training in Kericho, delivered by Sense International, where she was sensitised on deafblindness for the first time.

When she returned to Kwale, she spoke to parents of her community, talked about deafblindness in the school assembly and asked children in the school to report cases where they knew any other children with a disability. Mwana’s teacher massages her to improve her mobility and muscle atrophy, teaches her activities of daily living (ADL) and teaches her Grandmother more techniques to help Mwana’s development. Mwana eats all types of food (favourites include bread, ugali with rice and tea), but she does not like porridge at all!

Mwana's support teacher said:

“Mwana loves to play with plastic bottles, especially when someone shakes the plastic while she is in the standing chair. This is especially positive as playing with different materials is strengthening the mobility and agility in her hands.”

Mwana’s Grandmother’s change in attitude and the support she receives from her teacher has had a profound impact on her. When we met Mwana’s Grandmother, she was very welcoming and played a lot with both Mwana and her brother.

The difference this had on Mwana was clear to see, she is now much more stimulated and alert, and she can sit up, lift herself off and grasp things around her. She will often reach for things and replicate the movements that she perceives from around her. When we met Mwana, she was such a jolly young girl who was smiling all the time. She reacted to some movements and tried to reach for Elizabeth, the Programme Officer from SI Kenya who Mwana recognised.

As well as the positive progress and improvements made by Mwana, her Grandmother who was very depressed before is now much happier and eager to continue supporting Mwana. The mainstream teacher, in reaching out to Mwana and her family in their community has helped make a huge difference, finding time to visit even within her already busy schedule.

Mwana’s Grandmother said:

“I’m so happy she (the mainstream teacher) visits us, when she comes we work together."

First published: Friday 7 June 2013
Last updated: Wednesday 20 September 2017