Enable the Children

Good quality antenatal and child health services in Sierra Leone are scarce and often unaffordable. As a result, many children are born with or acquire mental and/or physical disabilities in their early years. Cerebral Palsy (brain damage) and other neurological defects are common, as are orthopedic abnormalities. Extensive poverty, traditional beliefs, and illiteracy compound the situation, often leaving the affected children rejected or abandoned and seen as a curse on their family.

Our Response

Enable the Children (ETC), founded as an independent not-for-profit in 2007 and recently incorporated as a program of World Hope International, is a team of local and expatriate staff who provide Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy, care, and support services to approximately 400 children living with disabilities in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Staff visit patients in their homes and teaches families and caregivers how to support children with disabilities using play, developmental positioning, and feeding support. This allows families the opportunity to learn to provide at-home care and treatment to children in a manner that is sustainable in their everyday lives. ETC also provides support for the family unit as they learn to look after the child and provide a loving, nurturing home life. As cultural beliefs lead many mothers to place blame upon themselves when a child is born with a disability, ETC works with mothers so they understand each child’s medical case and to reassure parents that they’ve done nothing wrong.

To date Enable the Children has helped turn more than 800 children’s lives around, despite still living with a disability. Some children have been given the opportunity to eat without the risk of choking thanks to better positioning, others have learned how to utilize and play with their hands, some have felt for the first time how it feels to sit upright or stand at eye level with their friends, and many can finally enjoy quality time with their parents, siblings, and neighbors.

Additionally, ETC’s school sponsorship initiative provides support to a small number of patients in the form of school fees and uniforms, which affords for these children the otherwise unlikely opportunity to attend school. The program also provides small-business start-up grants to families who’ve had to change their pattern of work to allow for care to be provided for the child at home.

Finally, ETC works with local carpenters, tailors, and technicians to provide specialized equipment for patients including specially-designed chairs, standing frames, leg gaiters (to support standing and walking), and drop-foot supports. The program also plans to provide wheelchairs to patients in need in the coming months.

The ETC program plans on expanding work with individual families to include community initiatives that will encourage local society members to accept and support neighboring children with disabilities and their families. Ongoing visits show a commitment to patients and over time the program has seen surrounding populations grow more accepting of children with disabilities. As some communities begin to welcome children with disabilities as members of the local community, it is ETC’s hope that additional community initiatives will further develop the capacity and desire of communities to fully accept children with disabilities as a part of the whole.

For more information on the Enable the Children program in Sierra Leone, check out this video!

How to get involved

The Enable the Children program seeks to expand and train new staff, including Physical and Occupational therapists. Additionally, the program staff seeks to purchase a new vehicle and motorbike to make house visits and move around the communities more efficiently.

For more information on Enable the Children please contact us or donate here.

Attention to US Tax Payers: Make a tax deductible donation, please click here.

Attention to UK Tax Payers: If you are a UK tax payer and would like to make a donation towards World Hope International's Enable the Children program, please click here. Please also take the opportunity to claim 25% tax back on your donation by filling out a Gift Aid form or contact office@linksinternational.org.uk for a hard copy. 

 

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