Physically challenged children today received an early Valentine gift from the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta who donated a fully kitted Beyond Zero Mobile Clinic for their outreach services.
Besides the Mobile Clinic, the First Lady presented early Valentine flowers to hundreds of disabled children including those undergoing treatment at the facility and others drawn from various institutions for the physically disabled in Nairobi, Kiambu, Kajiado and Machakos.
The flowers were a sign of love in a month (February) associated with love. Valentine is marked globally on February 14.
“And as we present each one of you with a valentine flower, I want every one of you to always remember, that you are gifted, you are important, and you mean so much to the world”, the First Lady told the children.
She made these gestures at the African Inland Church Cure International Orthopedic Hospital, Kijabe in Kiambu County where she interacted and shared experiences with physically disabled children during the Hospital’s “Night to Shine, 2017 Event”.
She also laid a foundation stone for the hospital’s Sh 250 million outpatient complex and commissioned Medical Equipment (High Dependancy Unit Machines) donated by Lotto Foundation.
After listening to testimonies and performances from the disabled children, all of which underlined the fact that disabled Kenyans need opportunity rather than sympathy, the First Lady said all children including those with disabilities need equal love, compassion, safety, protection and acceptance from parents and the society.
The First Lady said disability is difficult not only to the affected children but the parents and the teachers.
“Disability is difficult – and it can be especially difficult for children to cope and live with in a community who, when faced with a disabled person, can either be unkind and ignore them or be judgmental, finally discriminating, stigmatizing and excluding them”, she said
It is especially difficult to parents, some of whom do not know how to cope with the challenge, added the First Lady.
“Disability is difficult for parents to deal with—especially if they lack access to information that helps them understand their child’s circumstances”.
In many cases , the parents do not know of existing treatment and management options besides lacking the finances to access the facilities their children need , said the First Lady.
She called on Kenyans to create an environment in which all the children can reach their full potential and be what they are meant to be in society.
“This is the kind of world we need: a world that has enough love, compassion and kindness, to wrap its arms around all our children. A world in which every child is accommodated, embraced and invested in”, said the First Lady.
She said today’s event presented an opportunity to celebrate the fundamental dignity, worth and beauty of all human life
“Today we have a platform that allows us to challenge assumptions about what disability means – to learn, appreciate, value and celebrate the talents, hopes, dreams and aspirations of all the children with us today”, she said.
The First Lady said disability or not, children are full of possibility and potential that is special in a unique way if appreciated, nurtured and developed.
She thanked the AIC-Cure hospital for the incredible work the institution is doing in supporting children with physical and orthopedic conditions and giving them access to life-changing corrective surgeries.
The Chairman of the National Council for Persons with Disability, Dr David Sankok moved the audience when he recounted an unfortunate injection by a medical doctor in 1988 that left him disabled.
He gave other examples of other Kenyans who are serving the society in various capacities despite their various disabilities.
Dr Sankok however regretted that some Kenyan communities (which he named ) still abhor disabled children who are killed at birth.
“We live in a society that marginalizes the disabled. The disabled are also considered as a curse and a burden. Some of our societies have instructions to the birth attendants to kill disabled babies at birth”, he said.
AIC-Cure International Hospital was started in 1998 as a specialized institution dealing with orthopedic pediatric teaching for children with disabilities.
The 30-bed hospital provides care for children suffering a wide range of orthopedic conditions.
It also conducts mobile clinics across the country to identify children in remote areas who can be treated at the hospital and to provide follow-up care for those who have received surgery.
So far, over 200,000 children have received corrective surgery for various disabilities over the years including Dr Sankok who said his life as a person living with disability started at the hospital.