Established in 2008, the Malaika Kids program is a unique and unprecedented facility for children with special needs and severe disabilities. Malaika Kids aims to ensure that each child reaches his or her potential to lead a life with dignity and independent living skills. Malaika is the Swahili word for 'angel'.
To be disabled either mentally or physically in Kenya typically means living a life of exclusion and shame. The World Bank estimates that 98 percent of youth with disabilities in third world countries do not attend school at all. Children with special needs are often considered cursed and continue to be systematically excluded from public schools, creating even more stigmatization within the larger community. Malaika Kids was created to combat this injustice by providing therapy and education to youth with special needs in Maai Mahiu.
29 total students ranging from ages 3 to 18 are currently enrolled; 22 full-time and 7 who commute weekly from neighboring areas for part-time therapy.
- 3 specialized classes (Shooting Stars, Happy Angels, & Busy Bees) to cater to students' varying needs.
- 1 full-time Special Education Teacher, 1 full-time Occupational Therapist & 5 full-time caretakers assess the students, make referrals to medical facilities, and record quarterly progress of each child.
- Meet with the Malaika parents and give progress reports and specialized advice.
- Conduct school visits to ensure success of former Malaika Kids who have been integrated into local schools.
- Hold workshops for parents with emphasis on positioning, handling, feeding and dressing, as well as conducting individual home visits for follow-ups.
Invite external facilitators to hold workshops that target topics such as relationships, intimacy, and alternative communication.
Educational field trips and fun activities for the kids
Success stories: Ruth, Abby & Teresiah have all graduated. Peter has graduated and enrolled in a school for the deaf. Dan, who has severe Cerebral Palsy, has been promoted to the most advanced Malaika Kids class thanks to specialized therapy that has taught him new ways to communicate. Lucy has learned to sew and now assists in production with the Malaika Mums.
Ruth Mbatha is a twelve year-old girl with a disabling musculoskeletal disorder who has recently received orthopedic braces for her legs, thanks to the generous support of the CTC community. She can now maintain an upright posture unlike before and is able to walk with supports. Ruth received surgery to relieve tension in her tendons and is undergoing continued therapy to improve her walking ability. Follow Ruth's story here, in this video about her and her mother.
- Special Education Professionals of Kenya (SEP) is a society of therapists and teachers who have been working with special needs children across Kenya for over 12 years. SEP visits Malaika Kids the third Wednesday of each month to assist with mental and physical rehabilitation and to provide training to parents and caretakers. Watch a video about SEP featuring CTC here.
- Sarakasi Trust, an NGO based in Nairobi, is a group dedicated to promoting performing arts and cultural events in Kenya. Representatives from the Sarakasi Trust Hospital Project visit Malaika Kids the first Wednesday of each month and conduct entertaining and educational activities such as arts and crafts, puppetry, acrobatics, poetry, and games.
- The Acacia Fund, founded by a committed group of individuals in Kansas, is a fundraising effort focused specifically on supporting the Malaika Kids program.
With the great success of Malaika Kids has come even greater need. The population of youth with special needs in Maai Mahiu continues to grow, and we would like to develop an exit program to help transition older youth out of Malaika Kids. This program will offer vocational training such as gardening, carpentry, and other trades to empower the older youth to earn an income to support themselves. In addition, we are researching the possibilities of expanding or replicating the program soon in a nearby Maasai community.
Check out the Acacia Fund Facebook page for more updates on our Malaika Kids!
- NPR Article on Mike, one of our Malaika Kids: Kenya's Youngest 'Outcasts' Emerge From Shadows
- People with Disabilities in Kenya
- Kenya's Mentally Disabled Struggle to Survive
- Kenya National Survey for Persons with Disabilities