People with disabilities in Kenya are the poorest of the poor, the most marginalized of the marginalized, and the most voiceless of the voiceless. Out of Kenya’s population of 30 million almost 10% of the population (3 million) are persons with disabilities and, in spite of the 2003 People with Disabilities Act, are still kept at the very margin of society. Due to cultural factors, ignorance and superstition, persons with disabilities are largely perceived as a curse or punishment from God, sub-human and unfit to participate in society’s mainstream activities. Most families with children with disabilities are ashamed of them, tend to hide them and do not offer them any opportunities for personal development such as access to education or employment in family business or land.
Sima community Based Organization (CBO) was established in 1993 by Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and registered in 1994. We started operations in the year 1998. Sima is registered as a Community based, Non-Profit Non Governmental Organization. Its mission is to address issues, concerns, needs of PWDs, protect their civil and human rights and improve their social and economic welfare.
Sima is both an advocacy and a service provider organization. On the advocacy front, Sima works to sensitize Persons with Disabilities and the society at large on the rights of PWD’s and advocates for appropriate legislation and government-sponsored measures for Persons with Disabilities. Since its creation, Sima has already been able to reach over 2.5 million members with various disabilities throughout the country who are the consumers of our services and has registered 120 affiliate organizations to act as focal points for dissemination of information to PWDs and program management at grass root level. Our target groups include those with the following disabilities:
• Hearing and speech impairment (Deaf)
• Visually impaired (the blind)
• Mental impairment.
• People with multiple disabilities
• The poor orphans
• The poor widows
Our focus is on young children, the youth and the aged. We address issues of men and women.
Project launched to date include:
• Community Based Organizations for Widows
• Community Based Rehabilitation Centers for Orphans in Western Kenya
• Free Wheelchair Distribution
• Sponsorships for Medical Treatment
• Educational Sponsorships for disabled children and non-disabled children born out of disabled parents
• Education sponsorship for orphans
• Land Allocation for agricultural enterprises run by disabled people
• Pilot Project in Micro Enterprise Management and Finance
• HIV/AIDS awareness programme among others
Staffs at SIMA headquarters include:
• Disabled Persons and Non Disabled Persons
Below we describe in more detail the most important initiatives where we see a potential for co-operation between Development partners and Sima. Most disabled Persons both educated and uneducated languish in abject poverty due to marginalization and denial of equal opportunities. Currently the Kenya Government has not put in place any programmes that can economically empower persons with disabilities; both the Public and the Private Sector do not offer jobs or business opportunities to disabled persons. The programs described below are all designed to go beyond pure relief and empower PWDs towards self-sustaining lives, self-respect and social respect.
Summary of main SIMA’s projects
1. Education Sponsorship for Children with Disabilities and Orphans
Although Primary Education has been declared free in Kenya by the Government, it is not really free to disabled and orphaned children. The Government provides each student with Kshs. 1000/= US$ 15.3 per annum, not enough for orphans to buy books, school uniforms or to provide for the special needs of the disabled, such as wheelchairs, crutches, walking aides, and hearing aides among others.
Considering that parents and guardians discriminate against disabled children, some even hide them; most disabled children do not access school and the few that do never complete their studies because they are unable to pay school fees. Disabled students and orphans who somehow manage to overcome the Primary Sector hurdles, are rarely able to afford Secondary school fees ranging from Kshs. 25,000 to 50,000 (US$ 328 to 658) plus annual expenses of additional Kshs. 50,000/= per child.
SIMA is actively involved in supplementing the Governments effort in offering free education especially to disabled and orphaned students from Primary, Secondary through to University. In addition to financial support, SIMA will provide coaching to students on their curriculum, emphasising subjects which will favour students inclusion in the labor market or allow them to have the basic know how necessary to start micro-enterprises especially in agriculture. Under this programme alone, SIMA has registered 250 children who need education sponsorship support
Co-operation with Sima on this project would probably include a mix of financial contribution and - over time - sponsorship of on the field Kenyan and foreign specialists in education and re-education of disabled to operate in Kenya both directly and through training of future local education specialists..
2. Land allocation to PWDs
Most Kenyans depend on Agriculture for their livelihood. Disabled people, on the contrary, come to towns because they are not given land by their parents. Once in town they are once again marginalised on the labour market and depend on or end up begging for their livelihood.
Since many disabled people are fit for some sort of agricultural work, Sima has an ambitious programme to remove them from the streets, favour their return to the country and create opportunity for self employment. The program entails purchase of land, land allocation to groups of PWDs and support to launch of cooperative micro-enterprises by buying land and settle on the landless disabled, build small houses for them and if possible subsidise the purchase of cows and poultry as additional sources of income.
Co-operation with Sima on this project could include a mix of financial and in kind contributions of means of production. Medium term we envisage the possibility to support micro-entrepreneurs helping them find destination markets for their excess products in the developed world
3. Micro Finance Credit Revolving Fund for Persons with Disabilities
SIMA has started a unique programme of Micro Finance Credit focused only on PWDs and marginalised women. Educated PWDs and widowed or marginalised women today cannot emerge form poverty for lack of employment opportunities and lack of funds to start or develop micro-enterprise, as all established banks ask for collateral. This program is aimed at alleviating poverty by offering basic micro-enterprise management training and then to offer micro loans to selected groups of disabled or widows to start and develop enterprises. The programme has two components vis avis;
1. Capacity building of our loan scheme beneficiaries
2. Micro Revolving Credit (MRC) loan scheme.
The program follow on the footsteps of established micro finance programs relying on peer pressure and support both as a way to facilitate enterprise development and loan repayment.
The program is now over the pilot phase. Thousands of disabled people have been trained in micro-enterprise management techniques under our Capacity Building Component and some funds have already been granted on a pilot basis to help launch small farming and commercial businesses. The program should now move into full roll out, as soon as sufficient funds are available, to set up a revolving fund. We believe this to be one of our most important programs as it is decidedly aimed at moving from a relief-based approach to direct participation of helping PWDs.
Your participation to this initiative could come in the form of direct financial contribution for the Capacity building and MRC loan scheme. Combined with participation in the governance of the program to help steer the project towards, at least partial, self-sustainability, as we envisage significant fine tuning to the approach over time, given the very innovative nature of the process.
4. Advocacy and Civic Education
One of the reasons why disabled persons still lead a poor marginalized life style is due to lack of knowledge of their rights. SIMA has successfully campaigned and lobbied for the first legislation in this Country “ The Disability Act 2003” which is the First law since pre- independence days. We have also contributed to New Constitution making where we have a 2004 Draft Constitution in place now. The Government of Kenya has also recently launched African Decade of Persons with Disabilities (1999- 2009) National Plan of Action, which is in tune with Sima inspiration and focussed programmes.
Only very few PWDs have any idea of what is contained in the three documents. Sima is planning to carry out a Civic Education campaign especially in the most remote parts of the country to educate Disabled Persons on the contents of these three fundamental documents and how they can exercise their newly acquired rights more effectively. Sima is also expected to continue reviewing and dealing with all Human rights issues as they affect persons with all disabilities orphans and widows
This is a relatively low cost but very high impact project; contribution here could come in the form of funding, associated with coaching on program design and perhaps with “on the field” testimonials (live or filmed) on PWDs inclusion in other countries.
5. KPDP Headquarters: PWDs and advocacy centre in KITALE:
Due to outdated dependency character of many disabled persons in Kenya and the characterized poverty among most of them, they have not come up with permanent and sustainable projects that they can own and developed through their own efforts. Sima would like to be the roll model in coming up with her own permanent structures that can house their activities and at the same time be leased to serve other people on commercial basis for sustainability over a long period of time.
SIMA has already applied and acquired an 8 acre plot of land from the Government of Kenya worth Kshs, 80,000,000/= which is equivalent to 714,285 Euros on which its headquarters can be build.
8 acres land being a big area, It is SIMA’s dream to built the following infrastructure on it.
School units for epileptic, Deaf and integrated unit.
Home for the severely handicapped and the aged
Staff quarters and fencing.
After Construction which is planned to start sometimes this year, (subject to availability of funds) the project will go into phase 2 which will require furnishing and funding operations services.
This is a very ambitious project, which requires heavy funding and will require the support of the Government, large bilateral Developing partners and private larger Development partners.
Other donors and well-wishers who can start small contributing on co-funding basis will be highly welcome.
We believe this is a good area of our co-operation.
6. Provision of Equipment for PWDs
The social inclusion of many PWDs is often prevented by the lack of basic equipment which the disabled cannot afford.
We are already actively distributing free of charge wheelchairs, crutches, walking aides, and - in general - used equipment for the disabled that is wasted in Developed Countries.
SIMA needs assessment in this area have also revealed a great need of wheelchair workshops across the Country. Many donated wheelchairs go to waste due to luck of repairs or and spares. Most donated wheelchairs which form 90% of wheelchairs used by disabled persons in Kenya are donated from Developed Countries. SIMA would urgently wish to operate wheelchairs workshops and equip them with spares and , wheelchair technicians.
We believe you could play a role in facilitating collection and shipment of these equipments from Italy and in general the EU and facilitate funding for purchase of new ones and maintenance costs and also provide funding for implementation of wheelchair workshops.
7. ICT enablment of PWDs
ICT has an enormous potential to increase social and employment inclusion of disabled and marginalised people in Kenya. We have started a program for HW and SW distribution to rural schools. While continuing the supply of equipment to existing structures, we are planning a number of IT centres in rural areas fit for access by PWDs, where we will create training programs specifically designed for PWDs and marginalised people. Overtime, PWDs “graduating” from training programs and run could qualify for micro-enterprise funding or find other employment opportunities, including remote working.
You could support the program by soliciting and organising shipments of used or new equipment (PCs Pentium 2, 4 or a better ones , servers, scanners, printers), as well by on the field support in planning, starting and managing the initiative, from logistics to training. The programme also calls for qualified human resource and financial support for implementation and maintenance expenses
8. Health care initiative
Many disabling conditions in Kenya can be treated or prevented. Many people become disabled because of poverty that prevents them from accessing quality treatment and on time. Some people access treatment after several days due to a number of reasons ranging from luck of funds, long distant to Hospital. The disabled persons also get discriminated in hospital and Sima has launched a Healthcare programme which can effectively serve disabled persons without any discrimination. The programme will undertake:
• To study Disability Preventive measures
• To offer Disability corrective treatment.
• General treatment to Disabled Persons.
To achiever the above Sima needs to run mobile clinics and establish a Referral hospital.
We therefore need donation of Hospital Equipments and Appliances, Assorted Drugs, Ambulances for mobile clinics and funds for programme implementation and management.
We also need partners in Developed countries mainly hospital or Agencies for disabled persons where we can refer our disabled folks for specialized treatment and also who can support us with volunteer experts to help run our projects.
Basic health care, from prevention to hospital treatment, from administration of drugs to rehabilitation is deficient in Kenya, especially in rural areas and for PWDs.
SIMA acts as focal point to strengthen PWDs assistance across Kenya, providing suitable equipment, volunteer personnel, and drugs to existing medical structures. We also endeavour to sponsor medical treatments outside the area of residence in Kenya or abroad.
To move beyond a pure emergency based/ relief approach, in selected areas, we are planning the set up of dedicated medical support units or small hospitals, in conjunction with either local authorities or local affiliate organisations.
All these local health care initiatives require significant skilled personnel both in the planning phase and in the implementation phase, equipment and funds.
9. Humanitarian Donations and Relief services and support
SIMA is addressing the special needs of poor disabled persons ranging from children to the aged. Some of these people have more than one disability whereas others are severely injured or disabled such that they cannot participate in any income generating activities even if there was such a possibility. Others are disabled and very aged to do anything.
SIMA solicits for humanitarian donations such as new and used clothing, beddings, footwear, tents and funds for home based care and for their basic needs. Most of the 2.5 million registered disabled members fall in this category that needs such humanitarian support. Such as
New and used clothing, Blankets and other beddings
Funds for basic needs
Support staff such as social workers, and home care support staff.
Conclusion and next steps
Based on your willingness to pursue further the noble cause of the disabled in Kenya, we would be happy to discuss any or all of these projects in more detail.
The need for initiatives specifically aimed at African disabled is enormous as for them the plight of poverty is aggravated by de facto social segregation. SIMA’s mission is not only to alleviate their suffering but to create opportunities for their progressive inclusion in productive society. The cause is noble and the affiliate network already in place is useful platform to convey far-reaching initiatives throughout Kenya, but our financial and qualified volunteering resources are extremely scarce and we have not yet established sufficient partnerships with donors and NGO committed to long-term programs.
We are willing to work with you on any or all of the above projects and we would be delighted to provide more details on the different initiatives, support you in any specific fund raising initiative you might envisage, or work with you on shaping the projects to help maximise the value of your contribution.
For more Details please contact any of the following:
Johnstone Sikulu Wanjala
Sima Community Based Organization
PO BOX 1691, Kitale
Phone: +254-735 754 816