Today, June 16th, 2021, the world marked yet another International Day of an African Child. The theme of this year emphasizes the need to continue the implementation of Vision 2040, which calls for realizing an Africa fit for all children.
Many speeches from policy makers today detailed the progress that has been made over the years and equally recognized the work that still lies ahead. On the front line of the effort of ensuring a continent fit for every child is Martha, the founder of Utugi Angels, a shelter that cares for children with disabilities.
To help us understand what this day means to children with disabilities that live in institutions, she shared this profound story of one of the children.
Autistic, dumb, and immobile, Ron (a name he recently received to enable his court committal orders processed) was abandoned by the roadside by unknown people. After long and tedious court orders and Children’s Department processes, Ron finally got placed with us at Utugi Angels. The first days were particularly difficult, as he struggled to settle in with the other boys. It was difficult for him to use normal things like utensils, diapers, sleep on the bed, or even cover himself with a blanket. But, at Utugi Angels, we care for every child brought to us with individualized attention. We use music, provide exposure to the sun for Vitamin D, and shower the children with motherly love and care. Through access to rehabilitation and a customized diet from our nutritionist, today we see Ron beginning to thrive. We see him looking up with hope, strength, and determination. He has started walking due to therapy services and has recently started making sounds. He is gaining social skills, is interacting, and is making facial expressions, including broad smiles! We continue tracing his family so that we can begin re-integration. We are glad to see Ron rise from the ashes and look forward with hope.
Ron, in many ways, represents struggles that children with disabilities go through. Our society, as a result of many superstitions and outdated cultural beliefs, has seen children with disabilities thrown to the periphery of society. As we celebrate this day and reflect upon the challenges facing African children, Utagi Angles recognizes the contributions being made by organizations such as Lift The Children that are supporting facilities like ours to create safety for the children.
To know more about Utugi Angel read here https://web.facebook.com/utugiangels/?_rdc=1&_rdr