How YOU Can Help the Least of These: Sponsor a Child with Special Needs
March 12, 2013 § Leave a comment
In honor of Zambian Youth Day, I want to highlight an easy way for you to help a child here in Zambia:
Maybe you’re reading this and dreaming of living in Africa yourself. Maybe you want to teach your children about giving. Maybe you are waiting to adopt a child and are looking at other ways to help. Maybe you are looking for a good organization to give a charitable donation. Maybe you are tired of living for yourself, your own children, and your own well-being and want to give to someone who doesn’t have as much as you do. Maybe you have a special needs child and know the extra challenges involved in special needs parenting.
Many of these disabled children are hidden and their families are called cursed because of the child’s condition. Many are unable to go to school or receive proper nutrition and medical care. You may think that you have heard this all before but I have seen it with my own eyes. Poverty and suffering of this nature still does exist. And there is an immediate solution to this long-term problem.
If you have been following the blog for a while, you already know most of our story. In June of last year, we brought home our son Angelo Moses. He is 5 years old and a delightful boy (with a very strong will!). He has hydrocephalus and is currently learning to walk. The adoption was finalized in October and he became Nathaniel Menenberg. Nathaniel is developmentally delayed and attends pre-school at a local private Zambian school. In fact, it was the only school that would actually accept him. All of the other international schools (including the American school) told us that it was “unsafe” for him to be in their classes. Ahem. After my anger cooled down a bit, it became another realization of the challenges of raising children with intellectual and physical disabilities in Zambia. His current school is very supportive of children with special needs and Nathaniel loves going to class each day.
We have seen first-hand the lack of good health care and therapy available for children in Lusaka. It was difficult for us to find a well-trained and reliable physiotherapist – and we have money, insurance, and good resources! If you are a poor Zambian family making less than $2 a day, it is nearly impossible. There are few government resources available but even then the family is unable to pay for transportation to get there. We chose to adopt Nathaniel knowing about the extra resources required. Many families are not equipped to care for these precious children.
Special Hope is currently piloting local Community Care Centers in 2 compounds (slums) in order to bring therapies, education, and medical care within walking distance of the families. It is not a school but rather a place where a caregiver brings the child and the caregiver does the therapy and school work with the child. This teaches the caregiver how to teach the child and helps to encourage further therapy at home. Children attend the centers 3 times a week for 2 hours each. If the child and caregiver has good attendance in the month (excluding sick time), they are provided with a food package at the end of the month to supplement the family’s nutrition. We have already seen good results from the centers and are seeing the children develop and grow and a community created for the mothers and caregivers. Special Hope is looking at bringing this model to other compounds around the Lusaka area in the future to serve even more children with intellectual and physical disabilities.
For $35 a month, a child is able to attend their local Community Care Center, receive a supplementary food package, and receive any additional medical or social support they need. All of the support goes directly to the child’s expenses, none of it for overhead of the organization.
The Menenberg family will be sponsoring Chileleko, an 8-year-old girl with hydrocephalus. Her condition is remarkably similar to Nathaniel’s but her family doesn’t have all the money and resources that ours does.
Check out the Special Hope Network website HERE. I think you will find yourself inspired and touched by the work being done here in Lusaka and I hope you will be compelled to invest your money in this valuable resource for children with special needs.
Will you join us in sponsoring a child?
If you choose to sponsor a child, please would you send me a message and let me know that you did so? It’s encouraging to hear from others who believe in supporting these sweet children.
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