The Malanga Inclusion Project (MIP)
Kenya, on Africa’s east coast, is home to over 52 million people – a diverse, young, and growing population. Our work here is currently focused on Malanga, a rural area in Kilifi County. Malanga’s population (around 12,000), is spread across fourteen villages, and thirty-eight sub-villages; 64% of people in the area are aged 19 or younger. World Health Organisation estimates suggest that there are more than 600 children and young people with impairments (and more than 200 with severe impairments) living in Malanga.
The participation of disabled children in their communities and in education is extremely limited (there is no ‘special educational’ provision available); most are hidden in their homes, receiving no education, healthcare or social interaction. The parents of these children also suffer isolation and stigma, and often find themselves caring for a disabled child without any family or community support.
The Malanga Inclusion Project is working to end this isolation and meet the needs of disabled children and their families, using a community-based approach.
We are working with a number of partners to deliver this project. This includes:
A local Disabled Person’s Organisation and Self Help Group of disabled adults and parents of disabled children;
Four government-run primary schools, where we run playschemes;
Local Chiefs – local government officers with links to existing service providers and local authorities.
The MIP provides:
Currently, we run three playschemes in Malanga – all established in late 2017. These are run by young community playworkers, who are trained by us, and supported by larger teams of volunteers. The playschemes run two or three days a week, all year-round. Around 75 children attend these schemes at present; as a result of this success, we are now expanding the playschemes. You can read about the power of play here.
Parent Support Programme
Our Parent Support Programme includes regular meetings and home visits, providing parents with crucial advice, guidance, and support. It will also play a key role in identifying other disabled children who need our support. We have found that just giving parents a space to talk and support one-another can be life-changing. It also empowers parents to be advocates for their disabled children, helping to tackle stigma and create an inclusive community.
Our playschemes provide a vital setting for basic medical care and primary assessment of the children’s needs. We have employed a Medical Support Officer (MSO), who is a qualified and experienced physiotherapist. The MSO provides physiotherapy to the many children who need it, whilst also providing a range of services including the setting and plastering of simple fractures, treating infections, and nutrition monitoring and support to all the children who attend the playschemes in Malanga. The MSO assists children in accessing further medical care when required. Mobility aids, medication, and other treatments are also provided as available and appropriate.
Whilst we aim to include disabled children in mainstream school, we recognise that simply getting disabled children into the classroom is not tantamount to their inclusion. With large class sizes, limited resources and inexperienced staff, ensuring that a disabled child has a meaningful educational experience at school is a major challenge and can prove impossible. The only available, accessible, and appropriate educational setting for most disabled children in Malanga is DA’s playschemes. Our playschemes provide all those attending with an appropriate, stimulating and immersive educational environment.
As the project progresses, some disabled children will be gradually supported to participate in mainstream classes by playworkers and school staff if it is in their best interests. Our aim is to help shape an inclusive education system by:
facilitating working relationships between community playworkers and the school teachers;
creating a network of teachers from participating schools for information and idea-sharing;
establishing ‘Inclusion Clubs’ – groups of non-disabled children who will be taught about disability, participate in playschemes, and become advocates for inclusion;
and providing an alternative strategy for inclusive education which can be replicated across the country.