“Blessings has a reason to smile because he feels loved, cared for and belonging.”
Teacher Dorothy explains how one of her learners with multiple disabilities by the name of Blessings smiles now, as his school and home environments have become more inclusive through our project. Dorothy teaches grade two in a primary school in Nkhotakota District in Central Malawi.
Our past projects in Northern Malawi raised active awareness about the right and ability of deaf and hearing impaired children to learn. This created demand on the ground for our current project in the Central Region to embrace both these children and children with other disabilities.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises the right of all children to education. It also recognises that children with disabilities “…should enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child’s active participation in the community.”
Dorothy took part in the inclusive education training delivered by our partner, Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP). Soon afterwards, Dorothy began identifying learners with different needs and supporting them in her typically large class thanks to the knowledge and skills she acquired.
Seven-year old Blessings has deformities to his hands and legs, severe speech difficulty and signs of learning disability. Dorothy explains how he is now better able to exercise his basic rights:
“With the difficulties in walking, Blessings never used to come to school before the project, but through the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia Education Department’s interventions, I managed to coordinate with Blessings’ parents to orient them on the importance of inclusive education.
“Blessings parents were motivated in sending their child to school and eventually they started to bring him to school. At first the mother used to carry him on her back every day to school.
“Along the line Blessings was privileged to be given a wheelchair by MACOHA, a government organisation that works in Malawi with individuals of physical disability, to ease his movements.
“Apart from having difficulties with his legs, Blessings has difficulties in writing because of the deformed hands he has. As his teacher I have managed to help him improve his handwriting, and I conduct remedial lessons so that he understands the concepts being taught in class.”
Our partner CCAP carries out deaf and disability awareness training with families and village elders as well as teachers. It also coordinates with fellow organisations to join up efforts to support children with additional needs in the project districts, for example, securing some donations of wheelchairs.
Dorothy explains how all of this has brought about positive changes for Blessings, educationally, socially and emotionally, and for other children in the area:
“Blessings’ grades have already improved and he is now able to play with his friends. His friends are willing to push him around the school in his wheelchair, when coming to school or going back.
“Through the project, I can further testify that a lot of parents who used to hide their children with disabilities in their homes have come out into the open and are now bringing their children to school.
“I love what Blessings told me this other day, when he said he has a reason to smile because he feels loved, cared for and belonging.”