16 September 2015
|JRS last year provided more than 40 children with cerebral palsy at Kakuma with nutritious and easy-to-swallow food on a daily basis. And, more than 100 children with disabilities had access to disability-friendly furniture at camp day care centres.|
Kakuma, 16 September 2015 — Milk and porridge. Sometimes the simplest things can make the biggest difference. Ahmed, a nine-year-old boy living in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, used to be too weak and unable to chew and swallow solid food. But with nutritional assistance that includes easily digestible foods, along with special needs education and occupational therapy — all provided by Jesuit Refugee Service — Ahmed's mother says her son has shown steady signs of improvement and is living a more active life.
Unfortunately Ahmed’s story isn’t unique. The need for psychosocial assistance for children at Kakuma has significantly increased since last year, when the massive camp experienced an influx of refugees from South Sudan and Africa’s Great Lakes region. By November 2014 the facility’s population swelled to more than 177,000, with the majority of its inhabitants women and children – many of whom are separated from their love ones and unaccompanied. And with the crisis in South Sudan showing little sign of abating, the number of people seeking refuge at the camp is expected to increase.
Some of the children arriving at Kakuma suffer from mental and physical disabilities, while many are malnourished and require critical nutritional support. Some refugee children also are born with learning, intellectual and developmental disabilities at alarming rates, and often are unable to access essential services due to their conditions. JRS has met theses challenges by hiring more staff and offering additional support programmes for the growing refugee population.
Thanks to the generosity of many supporters, the JRS Mental Health Programme is able to help children at Kakuma receive targeted education and life-skills instruction customised for people living with mental disabilities, filling a gap in services as no other agency offers such help at the camp.
JRS last year provided more than 40 children with cerebral palsy at Kakuma with nutritious and easy-to-swallow food on a daily basis. And, more than 100 children with disabilities had access to disability-friendly furniture at camp day care centres.
Community-based physical therapy was provided for more than 100 children with cerebral palsy so they could improve their flexibility, strength, mobility and function. During the sessions, therapists trained parents and guardians so they could continue providing therapy to their children.
The physio/occupational therapy children at Kakuma receive has helped them become more physically and mentally active, and improved their overall daily living skills. One child, for example, was able to regain mobility after having been paralysed for about two years. He can now walk, though he still has not regained his speech.
The nutritional support JRS provides children with cerebral palsy also means their parents don’t have to sell the modest dry ration they receive in order to accommodate their child’s special eating needs.
And children with specific needs are able to obtain specialized education away from the camp, helping them concentrate on their studies and to escape the protection risks they sometimes face as a result of their disability.
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