In Machakos County in Kenya, 14-year-old Mwikali draws you in with her bright smile and infectious laughter. Mwikali has recently been fitted with her first wheelchair, which has helped to unlock a world of opportunities.
Having spent the first 14 years of her life without a wheelchair, Mwikali knows the challenges of growing up with limited mobility. “I used to crawl and feel pain … now, my movement has been eased. I can move where I want. I have many friends and they help me in school to move around with me.”
Mwikali received her wheelchair through the partnership between World Vision, Motivation Charitable Trust, Wheelchairs for Kids and Mbiuni Rehabilitation Centre in Kenya. Half a world away from rural Kenya, World Vision Australia partners with Wheelchairs for Kids, a local NGO which produces all-terrain, fit-for-purpose wheelchairs that meet World Health Organization guidelines.
World Vision Australia ships these wheelchairs to World Vision Kenya, which partners with Motivation Charitable Trust to train local health staff and wheelchair technicians on the 8 Steps of Appropriate Wheelchair Provision. Organisations like Mbiuni Rehabilitation Centre then assess and fit children with disabilities with appropriate wheelchairs and help to provide peer support and wheelchair user training.
For Mwikali, receiving a wheelchair has been life-changing. When Mwikali joined the Mbiuni Rehabilitation Centre, she didn’t have any physical aids to support her movement. But Mrs Munyao, one of Mwikali’s teachers, says that Mwikali is now one of the most active girls in her class and could soon join a vocational training centre.
During the holidays, Mwikali goes home to stay with her family. Life is much easier now that Mwikali has her own wheelchair and doesn’t need her mother or siblings to help her to move around the community.
“As much as I am living with a disability, I want to become a driver,” says Mwikali confidently. Mwikali is also considering becoming a tailor to make clothes for her community. “My mother is the first person I will make clothes for,” she says.
For Mwikali, and thousands of children like her, World Vision is helping to set the wheels in motion for positive change through wheelchair and disability programming.
What is disability inclusion?
Disability inclusion is an integral part of World Vision’s promise to reach the most vulnerable children and ensure fullness of life for children and communities. Children with disabilities are the most vulnerable in any community we work in – less likely to access social, educational and employment opportunities, and more likely to face discrimination and abuse.
We have a responsibility to ensure meaningful participation, protection and opportunity for children with disabilities across all areas of our programming. There are many ways in which a child may experience disability and associated disadvantage – so our response needs first to listen, engage and learn of the ways in which we can support and empower children, their families and communities.
One of the most urgent needs in our disability work is the lack of resources to enable participation and fullness of life. Addressing this gap in resources is often the first step in enabling access for children with disabilities to learn, grow and thrive in their communities.