Commitment to children with disabilities – an interview with Hannah Mwangi

Hannah Mwangi works as a Project Coordinator at Nairobi Family Support Services (NFSS). NFSS was established in 1982 and works with families of children with disabilities from Nairobi Urban slums (Kibera, Mukuru, Kawangware, and Korogosho). The organization’s aim is to help children with disabilities to participate in society and to realize their potential.

NFSS has been a project partner of Tuma Kimbi since 2019. Our association primarily helps out with the financing of everyday aids such as prostheses and standing aids, and therapies for the children. Hannah was kind on the occasion of the International Women’s Day to answer a few questions about her work at NFSS.

What is your personal background, your motivation and is there anything in particular that you have learned while working for NFSS?

After finishing my secondary education, I joined a social worker college where I attained a Diploma Certificate in social work.

During my work for NFSS, I have learnt a lot through sharing with the parents and guardians having and bringing up the disabled children. Especially when the parents are poor, as much as they would like their children to get their health and education rights, it is very difficult. Kenya is one of the African countries with good policies especially in addressing the educational needs of all children, but we have a challenge regarding the implementation. When I joined the NFSS, I was a young mother myself, and wanted to make a difference in the lives of these disabled children. They should be looked at as children with equal rights.

Where do you personally see the biggest challenge for the work of NFSS?

During the time I worked with parents, care givers and guardians of children with different disabilities, I realized that one big challenge is accepting their disabled children. There is a serious negative attitude of the community members towards parents of disabled children, rooting in cultural beliefs and taboos towards disabilities, saying that if you give birth to a disabled child it’s a curse from God for the evil things that you have done.

For NFSS as an organization relying on donor funding, the current situation is quite difficult. Most parents of the children we support are poor and many funds are currently directed at Covid-19 related issues.

What is your biggest wish for the future of NFSS?

My biggest wish for NFSS is to see how we can establish activities which can generate income for our organization to be more independent from donations. We have plans to establish an orthopedic workshop to start manufacturing orthopedic appliances, but again these will require construction support. The organization has acquired land for this purpose. Once the workshop is in place, further ideas include the establishment of a therapeutic clinic targeting other people who can afford to pay for the services.

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