“Any person who tries to rob me of my dignity will lose.”
The Vanessa Grant School (VGS) for children with special needs provides a safe and friendly boarding facility for forty children with mild to severe mental handicap, between the ages of 6 and 15. At the school, the children develop enough skills to enable them to contribute to their community.
With very generous support from donors there are now forty special needs children living in the boarding school. The VGS has recently been described as a “model special needs school”, with some of the best equipped facilities in Kenya. Strong links with parents are considered vital to enable carers to learn how to adjust, emotionally, financially and physically, to supporting a child with a handicap.
The children are involved in a diverse range of activities to broaden their skill levels. Daily chores such as looking after animals, planting and tending vegetables and chicken production are all encouraged. There is also education in the classroom with reading and writing being taught where possible.
In 2019 two additional classrooms were added where the children are now offered some pre-vocational skill training such as weaving, bead work and sewing. Although the government pays the staff and provides some money for upkeep, parents are still expected to provide funds for their children to live at the school during term time. Many families struggle to pay and so there is great need for sponsorship.
There is a limited welfare state in Kenya. Without the VGS these children would possibly receive no education and no training and would have been condemned to a life of poverty, probably supporting themselves through begging.