BY ROBERT NYAGAH - CLUB CORRESPONDENT
Majority of mentally challenged pupils who are generally classified as un-teachable at a special school in Malindi are proving pundits wrong by making beautiful finished handmade items including necklaces and embroidery.
Members of the Rotary Club who visited the Sir Ali Special School were pleasantly surprised to learn that the pupils could make attractive items, some clearly with a sale value.
Some were so emotional that they immediately asked for the prices of some of the items ready to buy them and boast the school and the pupils.
The school head teacher Mrs. Sophia Bombe displayed the various items which included leather mobile phone pockets, necklaces made of beads and colorful crotchet items.
During the visit by a section of the Rotary Club of Malindi members, the Club pledged to support mentally handicapped pupils schooling at the Sir Ali Special in a bid to ensure that they excelled in their studies and skills impacted on them through vocational facilities.
There was excitement and song when the Rotary Club members arrived at the school with the faces of many of the mentally challenged pupils brightening to seal any of the disabilities normally associated with the pupils.
“We do not know how to thank you for visiting us and bringing some gifts, our only gift in return is the promise that we shall pray for you so that you succeed in your endeavors and can visit us many more times in future” said the head teacher.
While expressing satisfaction at the pace of learning by the children, the chairman promised that the organization would identify areas in need of intervention and then partner with the school management and interested donors to elevate standards at the institution.
Mr. Muriungi was addressing the school community when the Club donated various foodstuffs to the school. The donation included maize flour, cooking oil, rice, salt and other assorted items.
The chairman praised the teachers at the school led by the head teachers Mrs Sophia Bombe for impacting knowledge and skill on the disadvantaged children.
“The work you have been doing in teaching these mentally challenged pupils clearly proves that disability is not inability and we at the Rotary wish to sincerely encourage you to keep up with the good work” said the Club chairman.
Muriungi encouraged the school management and the teachers to ensure that they created awareness in Malindi where many physically and mentally challenged children could still be at home due to stigma associated with the disability.
The chairman said he and the club members were aware of how tough it was to teach and take care of mentally challenged children, adding that some parents actually took such children to such establishments to lighten the burden of taking care of the children.
Children with disabilities, Mr. Muriungi said were capable of learning and reaching high levels of professionalism provided they were handled properly and encouraged to learn.
Advising the children, Mr. Muriungi said “work hard and you will be able to compete for various openings in business and employment”. Individual Rotarians also commended the teachers and the pupils for their hard work and the enthusiasm trough which they received the team.
The head teacher introduced three pupils who had excelled in hand work having been able to make items which could be sold and bring in an income. The pupils included two boys and a girl.
The management of the school awarded the Rotary Club of Malindi a certificate of appreciation which was received by the chairman on behalf of members.
Rotarian Feisal Osman was also awarded a certificate of appreciation to having donated furniture to the school in the past.
The school according to a report by the head teacher has 138 pupils among the 88 boys and 50 girls. The baby class has a population of 17 children while the pre-vocational section has 45 trainees.
The head teachers expressed fears that the number of drop out from the school might grown from the present six mainly because of risks pupils were exposed to when communing from long distances.
Mrs Bombe said that some parents were poor and could not afford the fare for their children. Aged learners, she also explained had nowhere to go since the institution lacked vocational training facilities yet no other institutions had such training openings for the learners.
The school has 6 teachers and compared to learners’ enrolment, the school now faces an extreme shortage of teachers. According to Mrs Bombe the ration was supposed to be one teacher to 10 learners yet currently one teacher handles over 20 learners.
Despite its importance, the school lacks adequate sanitation facilities with the mentally challenged pupils being forced to share toilets with pupils from the Sir Ali Primary school.
Presently the school’s dormitory project remains incomplete due to lack of funds and the incomplete building serves as a temporary dinning hall. Generally the school has a myriad of problems and a report has been forwarded to the Rotary Club of Malindi to look at areas in which assistance could be availed.
(Mr. Nyaga is from the Daily Nation newspaper in Kenya)