Despite the existence of supportive national policies and laws on disability, people with disabilities continue to be excluded in various socioeconomic spheres in Malawi. Long-term caregiving for disabled children is associated with fatigue, financial difficulties, parenting distress and other psychological issues. While such parents of children have repeatedly highlighted their feelings of discrimination, stigma and exclusion, leading to mental health issues.
Families of children with disabilities in Lunzu area, Blantyre rural lack access to rehabilitation services, which is vital in managing disabilities. According to UNICEF 2020 report, Blantyre rural had 1146 children with disabilities who need rehabilitation services. However, there are a few centers mostly in the City and at a distance of 20 to 30 kilometers even more. The key barriers include; high costs for travel and long distances. In addressing this, CHICOSUDO, parents, and community leaders established Rehabilitation at Manja village under group village headman Manes Kapeni in Lunzu.
Under this program, CHICOSUDO is working to achieve the following:
1. Provide weekly rehabilitation services.
• Physical and Occupational Therapy – PT and OT services will be provided for those in need. Both therapists are available on site, four days per month.
• Medical Referral – Children will be assisted in accessing and traveling to appropriate medical facilities for evaluation, diagnosis, prescriptions and treatment. CHICOSUDO will continue providing transport for this.
• Psycho-Social Family Support – provided to cope with the challenges of caring for a children with severe disabilities.
• Family Instruction and Education – Families will benefit from instruction in proper methods of care for the handicapped children. These services will be in form of counselling sessions and demonstrations.
• Nutritional Management – Children and families will be directed in appropriate foods and feeding methods to ensure optimal dietary health. At the center, children will be given food as soon as they have finished the days sessions.
• Informal Education – Opportunities will be explored for the children to attend appropriate educational facilities and will work towards those goals. The lessons will include, learning numeracy and words so that they can learn how to read and write.