CHARITY AT TIME OF CORONA

Family gives refuge to cerebral palsy kids

Kids with the condition are hidden, neglected or abandoned by most families in Uasin Gishu. But the Korirs welcome them with open arms

In Summary

• The family opened the centre in 1996, hosting children with the condition after other children’s homes rejected them

• These children are abandoned or neglected by their parents and families because they think they are cursed or possessed

Pastor Paul Korir and physiotherapist Sammy Koskei help a child at the centre in Eldoret
Pastor Paul Korir and physiotherapist Sammy Koskei help a child at the centre in Eldoret
Image: JESSICA NYABOKE

A centre in Uasin Gishu county is struggling to nurse and feed 85 children suffering from cerebral palsy, many of them abandoned by their families.

Jawabu children’s rehabilitation centre in Kipkaren estate, Eldoret, is no ordinary children's home. This is where Paul Korir, 42, and his wife Judith, 40, look after children aged one to 18 with rare health complications.

The family opened the centre in 1996 to take care of children suffering from cerebral palsy after other children’s homes refused to admit them.

 
 
 
 
 

Cerebral palsy is a congenital disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture. It is due to abnormal brain development, often before birth.

Symptoms include exaggerated reflexes, floppy or rigid limbs and involuntary motions. These appear by early childhood. Long-term treatment includes physical and other therapies, drugs and sometimes surgery.

“These are children either abandoned or neglected by their parents and families because they think such occurrences are as a result of curses or bad spirits,” he said.

Korir, a dedicated Christian and pastor, remembers with nostalgia various Biblical teachings and more so the need to care for the less fortunate in our societies.

That is how he and his wife Judith have been able to give parental care to 85 abandoned children at the Jawabu home.

It's a bold move that has earned the Korir family respect and admiration among the residents of Eldoret town.

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, have taken a toll on them. It has not been business as usual for them.

 
 
 
 
 

Unlike children in other homes, those at Jawabu need special care as they have various body deformities that require frequent massage.

Sammy Koskei helps a child with cerebral palsy with physiotherapy at the rehabilitation centre
Sammy Koskei helps a child with cerebral palsy with physiotherapy at the rehabilitation centre
Image: JESSICAH NYABOKE
Fruits and vegetables and foods rich in iron and calcium are essential in their bodies to develop normally. Within years, some of them completely recover
Jawabu director Paul Korir

Korir, who is the director, told the Star at the centre the children need a lot of attention.

“Since they have compromised immunity, they need special care from us, especially during this period of the coronavirus,” he said.

The centre has established a physiotherapy area within its establishment to protect the children from contracting the virus.

“When taking the children to hospital for physiotherapy procedures, there is fear of contracting the virus,” he said.

"We used to take them to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital and Mediheal for medication regularly, but with the outbreak of the pandemic, we decided to work at the rehabilitation centre.”

He said while doing physiotherapy to the children, they follow the same procedures done in hospitals and have realised tremendous progress in their growth and development.

“I recall an incident where the children were brought into the homes and some of them could not go for a short call, which interfered with their digestive systems,” Korir said. 

With the assistance of his wife, Judith, they have ensured the children get a good recommended diet for their growth.

“Fruits and vegetables and foods rich in iron and calcium are essential in their bodies to develop normally. Within years, some of them completely recover,” Korir said.

Feeding 85 children is an uphill task, especially during this Covid-19 pandemic. The centre has initiated projects like chicken rearing and dairy farming, whose produce contribute to the children's dietary needs. They have only one cow and a few chicken from which they get eggs and white meat. 

The children's centre is located on the outskirts of Eldoret town. Children brought to the home are from various backgrounds. Many hail from neighbouring estates like Langas, Kipkaren and Kaptagat.

"They are usually in a sorry state when they come, but with dedication from my wife and other staff members, we assist them with exercise until they get back into good shape," Korir said. 

Most residents in Uasin Gishu hide children with cerebral palsy for fear of stigmatisation. Sometimes the neighbours are the ones who give Korirs a tip that in a certain home, there is a child living with the condition.

The pastor said it's sad since some parents bring children with the condition to the home and abandon them.

Judith Korir pushes the wheelchair of one of the children at the rehabilitation centre
Judith Korir pushes the wheelchair of one of the children at the rehabilitation centre
Image: Jessica Nyaboke
Nobody should lose hope because of the condition she was born with. We are all equal in the eyes of God

"They don’t make even an initiative to come and visit them at home at any given time. The children are just left in our hands," Korir said.

One child at the centre, Mercy Chemtai, 19, said she was brought into the home when one of her legs was full of wounds and she could not walk.

Chemtai, now in Form 4 four at Joyland Secondary School, is full of smiles. She said the homes has assisted her a lot in terms of growth and development, and when she completes her education, she would like to become a nurse.

"Now that we no longer go to school because of the coronavirus pandemic, I assist the young children with similar conditions like mine and who are young with washing clothes, cooking and physical activity like massaging them and sun bathing them,” Chemtai said.

Her counterpart Lauren Koskei, 14, is full of smiles. "Nobody should lose hope because of the condition she was born with. We are all equal in the eyes of God," she said.

A mother, Lydia Bosing, who hails from Langas and has a child with cerebral palsy at the home, said she is happy and thanked the family of Korir for lending a helping hand to their ailing child, who is now in Form 2.

Korir is appealing to well wishers to donate anything they have to assist the needy children at the facility, especially during this time of Covid-19. The pandemic has restricted movements, and now any aid is channelled through the county government to minimise crowds.

The pastor concluded by thanking the county government for financially assisting the children.

Edited by T Jalio

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