July 25, 2023
Very excitingly the month of May saw the inaugural meeting of the 'Disability Support Group' take place at Matumaini Rehabilitation Centre! (MRC) The aim of this monthly support group is to build relationships, strengthen families and the community, and reduce prejudice and discrimination around disabilities.
This first meeting was focused on forming relationships and giving members opportunities to share their stories. We also delivered some training around the topic of safeguarding and human rights. Looking at what the law says on these topics and the community's duty in helping to ensure that disabled individuals are protected.
We heard the story of a mother and how it took 6 years before her child, Elizabeth, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. This is her story: At birth it was noticed that the baby did not cry and over the subsequent weeks did not put on weight as expected. It was blamed on the mother's breasts initially, that she wasn't producing enough milk and that she wasn't feeding her child properly.
As time went on it became apparent that her daughter was not seeing properly and she had delayed developmental milestones. It took until 2 years old before she could crawl. At 6 years old she could speak some words but still had significantly reduced mobility. Through this time she had been to see several local doctors who had suggested a number of possible causes for Elizabeth's condition, but at no stage was she referred to secondary care for further investigations. Elizabeth's mother found out about MRC and brought her to the centre asking for help. The appropriate care and assessments were accessed and a diagnosis of cerebral palsy was subsequently made. Elizabeth is now a termly border at MRC and receives regular medical and rehabilitation input. Elizabeth is no longer in a wheelchair and is able to mobilise with a walking frame. She also attends the nearby integrated primary school where she is learning skills such as counting and writing.
A quote from one of the group members: "People talk about you and point fingers when you have a child with a disability, such sessions are good to share and talk about things."