Children with cerebral palsy living in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya, have chewing and swallowing difficulties and need special nutritional support.
It was found that most children who are suffering from this condition could not consume the required nutrients from the dry rations distributed in the camp because their families could not supplement them.
Early in 2013, through the assistance of the Irish Jesuit Mission that supported this programme with a donation of Ã¢â€šÂ¬4,710, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) began supporting the children by providing milk and porridge flour. Initially there were 15 children receiving support but the number has grown to over 40 children. Additional numbers are attributed to increased awareness and parents overcoming the stigma of revealing the children with this condition to the wider community.
This is a fantastic step forward!
Even better news is that JRS are working on reaching 120 children and increasing their individual food supplies. The cost of this programme will be Ã¢â€šÂ¬10,000 annually.
One family that was really appreciative has twins suffering from severe cerebral palsy. The children are bedridden as they cannot sit or stand and are fed while lying down with their heads elevated on a pillow. It was a very humbling experience for the team that delivered the foodstuffs.
JRS began working in Kakuma refugee camp in 1994 to respond to the thousands of refugees fleeing the civil war in Sudan. It provides refugees with the opportunity to build new skills for life outside the camp, through a psychosocial counselling and vocational training programme, as well as primary, secondary and higher education services. JRS also provides educational scholarships for refugee children with disabilities to attend the appropriate local schools.
Given the long term nature of their displacement, many refugees have lived their entire lives in the camp. The provision of health and education services is key to JRS activities as a means of providing hope and building skills for their future. In particular, some girls and women live in very vulnerable circumstances.
For example, JRS met with a single mother who has a child with cerebral palsy and when she received the foodstuff, she cried with joy. She explained that she had no source of income and nobody to support her financially. She would sell part of her ration in order to supplement the nutritional needs of her child. Thanks to JRS, she can now spare her ration for other members of the family.
There is a great need to continue supporting this vulnerable population. If you would like to contribute, please contact the Irish Jesuit Mission Office at +353 (0)1 836 6509 or via the Contact page on this website.