Nolondo School for the physically disabled: Annsheila’s new legs
The Nolondo School for the physically disabled is one of our largest, and longest running projects. It is one of the few schools in Kenya able to effectively support disabled children, and because of this the growth of the school has been significant. The primary school, opened in 1998 now has 270 pupils, and the secondary school, opened in 2011, has 171 pupils. As well as supporting the school through capital investment, healthcare, and feeding costs, Meal a Day has also more recently supported a new borehole with solar powered pump and water storage tanks. One of the stories which really brings to life the impact this school can have is that of Annsheila and her new legs.
Annsheila is a 16 year girl who, for the first 15 years of her life, had what is probably best described as a ‘normal’ upbringing. She walked to school, played with her friends, and helped around the house. All that changed a year ago when she was involved in a car accident, the result of which was that Annsheila had a bilateral above knee amputation – she lost her legs.
In a culture which refuses to accept disabled children, it’s unlikely anyone could have given Annsheila much of a hope in life. As far as most people were concerned, she couldn’t walk to school; therefore she couldn’t get an education; therefore she couldn’t get a job. So what hope did she have?
The answer is to be found in the uniform she’s wearing, because it’s the uniform of the ‘Nolondo School for the Physically Disabled’, a Meal-a-day project which has changed Annsheila’s life story, alongside the stories of hundreds of other children. The motto of the school completely opposes the traditional culture with the phrase ‘Disability is NOT inability’!
Over 350 children from the ages of 4 to 18 years old are fed with 3 square meals, educated to college level and given a place to call home. Special care is given to suit each child’s individual needs; there is a specific wheelchair program designed to make sure that those who need wheelchairs (over 40 in the school) are given the correct type, and that they are all maintained effectively. The children living here are supported by a fully trained medical team; an onsite physiotherapist, occupational therapist, and wheelchair handy man!
From little more than a mud hut and a handful of unwanted children less than 10 years ago, Nolondo School has transformed. Today it boasts an ECD (Early Child Development) class of 59, a Primary school of 171 and a Secondary school of 174 students.
Annsheila is one of the children who has benefitted from the wheelchair program over the last year, and has adjusted to life well. The wheelchair and school has helped her to continue her study and next year she will sit her KCSE (university entrance exam), and hope to achieve the grades required to attend university.
But before she sits her exams, she’s got another change to get used to because the Nolondo School for the physically disabled hasn’t stopped at giving Annsheila just a wheelchair – as part of the wheelchair program, Annsheila has now been given new prosthetic legs! Annsheila can walk again!
The Nolondo School for the physically disabled has given Annsheila, and hundreds of other children like her, more than just an education and mobility, It’s given them independence, hope, confidence and a future.