By Sakah Richard
More than 3,000 mentally disabled children have received aid in Trans Nzoia as members of the Special Olympics Kenya came to their rescue.
Special Olympics chair Thuo Chege says that there is an increase in the number of mentally handicapped children in the country, a condition that has led to an increase in numbers of children who have eyesight and hearing impairment.
“We are seeing an increase in numbers of children with this condition due to awareness especially in the rural areas but are also concerned of middle class parents who are hiding their mentally incapacitated children due to fear of being laughed at by their neighbors.”
Chege urged parents with children who are intellectually disabled to explore the numerous opportunities that are aimed at benefiting the children.
“There are so many opportunities for the children including sports like Paralympics, deaf Olympics and Special Olympics plus educational opportunities through integrated special schools with some of them ending up as graduates.”
Dr. Phyllis Mwangi, a pediatrician, says that most of the children have never attended hospitals for checkups, leading to eye problems with most cases being congenital, meaning they were present at birth.
“Most of them need surgery for cataracts, cheractokona and allergic conjunctivitis conditions that can be corrected if detected early and with regular medical checkups.”
Some of the beneficiaries have expressed gratitude over the camp, adding that most of the cases discovered they had no idea of.
“We have 300 children in our special schools who need aid and would like the activity to extend to rural parts of the county,” noted Anthony Kandie, a parent with a special needs child.
Other parents were shocked by the outcome of the check-up as several children were found with underlying conditions.
“I only knew my son Peter Nyongesa Nato was mentally handicapped, but he has been found with eye problems, a condition I did not know all these years, and he has been put on medication,” noted his father, who brought him for the check-up for the first time.
Other parents noted that they had just come for a routine check-up to see how their children were fairing health-wise.
“I am happy my daughter is doing well and am going home to be a happy mother as the check-up has shown no new ailments.”
The Special Olympics Kenya medical camp is a welcome initiative that is helping to identify and treat mentally disabled children in Trans Nzoia. The organization is also working to raise awareness about the condition and to encourage parents to seek help for their children.