Otunga Center for Children

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Under Construction on 11/26/17

History
In our work with the elderly adults in Machakos, Kenya, we have learned of a number of critically handicapped children who are not adequately cared for.  There are no adequate facilities for the care and education of developmentally handicapped children in this area of Kenya.  There are facilities for children who have the possibility of moving into a vocational setting with proper education but nothing for those who are struggling with severe cognitive disabilities.  In our short time of meeting the elderly in this area, we have found children who are all but abandoned by family or who are neglected and abused.  Some of these children suffer simply because of the lack of knowledge and resources of the parents, through no fault of their own. Some of these children are doomed to spending their life in a bed, in a dark room, malnourished and unstimulated.

Mwololo Kilonzo, our Kenyan Director, was educated in Social Work and was formerly employed by Children of God Relief Institute (Nyumbani Children’s Home / Village). He worked in the Nyumbani program in the Nairobi slums (Lea Toto). He was also given the responsibility of intake, evaluation and resettlement of AIDS orphans at Nyumbani Village, Kitui.   More recently, Mwololo and I developed a feeding program for the elderly in Machakos area, during a lengthy period of drought. It was while doing this relief work that we discovered the number of severely handicapped children, suffering from lack of food, medical attention and parental awareness.   It is our belief that by informally educating both the handicapped child and the parent, we can improve the lives of the children as well as the family through activities, therapies and integration back to the home and community.

Land
We have property in Machakos District where we currently have a farm and large chicken operation.  On that land, we have broken ground and ae beginning to construct a small facility for outreach and the care of critically handicapped children.

The Center
The Center is to provide outreach to the many handicapped children tucked away in remote areas near us.  Sometimes in Kenya, children with severe handicapping conditions, physical and mental, are often thought to have been a curse and kept out of sight. Some have been left in the care of grandparents.  Early on, we met with the Director of the Children’s Department in the nearby town of Machakos. She was very positive about the need of such outreach in that there is nothing of its kind in the area.  We have the resources to coordinate services, first as outpatient referrals at a local hospital and in time, offer PT, OT, Nutrition and care at our new Center. While the head of the Machakos Children’s Department can assist with referrals, locating children, etc. there is no government money coming our way.  But we are confident that if we have a center, a program and a track record, we can secure additional funding.

The goal is to keep children in the family home.  We know that the best place for these children is not an institution but with a family, with parents or grandparents educated in the ways of caring for a handicapped child. Serving these families would necessitate 1. Parental Education, 2. Appropriate diagnoses, and coordination in finding appropriate medical attention, 3.) Nutritional health, 4.) Physical and Occupational Therapy. 5.) Support of parents in finding work while still making sure the child is cared for during the work day, 6.) Exposure to and integration of the handicapped child into the community, 7.) Advocating for governmental change to support such families and their child.

The Center is to become a hub of outreach. We hope to employ Social Workers, Physical and Occupational Therapists, Coordinators of Adult Education on Disability matters, an Advocate to arrange for needed medical attention (coordinate appointments, transportation, food supplements, etc.)

In some cases, we foresee the Center as a place for a 30 day or more respite, where children can be assisted with more intense and ongoing therapies, consistent availability of food and clean water and parental education. With proper parental education, they can then return to the home with follow up. There may be situations where the stay at the Center would be extended; abuse, emergency health issues, or other circumstances which put the child’s health at risk at home. We have constructed the physical space at the Center for such situations but, as we have stated, an institutional setting is not desirable.  The building will be a structure with multiple community uses. Adult Education, Food Distribution Site (we have been renting a little structure for our Friday food distributions during drought), Community Gathering Space and perhaps, if we can be assured of security, a place for me to live.  Rooms at the Center include: 1.) Watchman Room (sleeping space), Foundation Office, Therapy Room, Kitchen, Storage Room, Two Guest Rooms (sleeping), Four Toilets, Boys Dorm (Sleeping), Girls Dorm (Sleeping), Main Hall for Dining and Meetings, Outdoor Covered “Patio” or pass through for gatherings.

Services Offered: Cardinal Otunga Center for Children offers the following services to the children enrolled in the Center’s programs:

1) Medical Referral – Children will be assisted in accessing and traveling to appropriate medical facilities for evaluation, diagnosis and treatment.
2) Family Instruction and Education – Families will benefit from instruction in proper methods of care for the handicapped child.
3) Nutritional Management – Children and families will be directed in appropriate foods and feeding methods to ensure optimal dietary health.
4) Physical and Occupational Therapy – Initially offsite, PT and OT services will be arranged for those who will benefit from it.
5) Psycho-Social Family Support – provided to cope with the challenges of caring for a child with severe disabilities.
6) Informal Education – Opportunities will be explored for the child to attend appropriate educational facilities
7) Respite and Boarding – When circumstances demand and remaining in the family setting is not possible, there may be respite and residential opportunities available.



Timeline
2016                         Land Acquired
May 2017                Meeting with Children’s Department – Machakos town
July 2017                Design Plans and Blueprints Drawn
August 2017          Plans Submitted for Construction To District Survey Committee
September 2017   Plans Submitted to National Environmental Management Authority for Approval
September 2017   Plans Submitted to National Construction Authority for Approval
September 2017   Construction Begins
January 2018        Main Buildings Construction Completed

The Name – Otunga Center for Children

Maurice Cardinal Otunga (1923 – 2003) was the first Kenyan Bishop, Archbishop, Cardinal but was always simple in his ways. “Otunga” is a word for the staff the elderly lean on for support.  At the end of his life Cardinal Otunga had no house, no car, no possessions.  A man of peace and joy but a true warrior of the spirit. Soft spoken, but a strong promoter of the dignity of the human person, of life and of the family.

 

WE NEED YOUR ASSISTANCE
The Ed Colina Foundation welcomes assistance from groups and individuals with expertise and resources in the area of disabilities and medicine.  We continue to focus on the Gospel mandate of caring for widows and orphans, assisting the poorest of the poor.  This has included poor children in the slums of Nairobi as well as vulnerable adults in the outskirts of Machakos.  This new venture, The Otunga Center for Children, seeks to address the lack of services, care and humanity towards “the least ones”, those children with severe handicapping conditions.  We need your help!  If you have funding connections or have connections with those individuals or groups that can provide assistance as we begin, we welcome your support.   ed@edcolinafoundation.org 

 

  Blue Print    The Plan

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