Eight year-old *Bayley takes around three hours to walk to school. Not because of the distance, but because his pelvic problem makes walking a painful, slow, difficult experience. School is actually only around 1km away.
Bayley keeps making the long and painful trek, despite his disability. He enjoys school, when he gets there, and he certainly has the capacity to learn. But he’s always late. And often, by the time he finally arrives home, he is in too much pain to face going back the next day.
Bayley lives with his grandparents, an uncle, and his 17 year-old aunt, in rural south western Uganda. His aunt is still in school, the rest of the family are subsistence farmers and casual labourers. None of them can afford transport for Bayley, or even a walking aid. Without support, Bayley is at high risk of dropping out of school altogether.
Sadly, Bayley’s story is not uncommon. Meet four year-olds *Timothy, *Prossy and *Brian. All are of an age to start school. But none have set foot in a classroom yet. And they won’t, without help. 90% of children with disabilities in Uganda are out of school
Timothy lives with his elderly grandparents, both frail and in their 80s, who are also responsible for two other children, aged 9 and 12. His father died and his mum abandoned him. He has cerebral palsy and uses a walking frame.
Prossy has a deformed leg. Her mum was just 15 years old, and abandoned her as a baby. She lives with her grandmother, who is also responsible for another child, aged just five. They live in poverty, with no latrine or covered kitchen.
Brian has spina bifida and club feet. He is incontinent due to a kidney problem. Here he is, dressed in his six-year-old sister’s hand-me-downs.
His family sold their land to pay for medication for him, and now they scratch a bare living from the land remaining, and casual labouring. His mum, who is HIV+, can’t work. His sister’s school refused to take him on roll.
These children are just four of those identified so far, during the research phase for Global Care’s new project helping children with disabilities get to school, in Rukungiri District.. Over the coming months, beginning in January 2019, our local staff will explore the most effective ways of helping them access education.
This is their story. Still unwritten. To a lesser degree, it is also your story. Every single person who gave to our Anniversary Appeal in 2018, or to our Christmas Appeal, which continues, or who took part in our Dragon Boat Race or Gala Dinner, or numerous other fundraising events, has contributed towards finding solutions to help these children, and others, get to school, where they will learn skills for a safer, more independent future.
Your fundraising has totalled more than £70,000 so far, double our initial target of £35,000 marking 35 years of Global Care’s work. We are also delighted that some of you have committed to this project as an ongoing partner, with regular donations from £15 per month. This fund ensures we have plenty of resources to explore the access needs of these children going forward, and partners help us make it sustainable in the long term.
Is help with transport their main need, or does the school need to be adapted to make classrooms and latrines accessible? What other barriers exist? We will find out. And when the pilot phase is over, and we have gathered evidence of the most effective and sustainable ways forward, we will identify more children, and use the strategies we have developed to support them too.
Thank you for the part you have played in starting this story, and in so many of the other stories which have been told as part of our ’35 Stories’ feature in 2018. But let’s not forget whose story this is, and how much they need us.. Please remember Bayley, Timothy, Prossy and Brian in your prayers, and please keep supporting this work. We want to see transformation in these young lives too, into 2019 and the years ahead.
*names changed to protect children’s identity