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New dining hall gives hope to mentally challenged learners in Murang’a

A school for mentally challenged children in Murang’a County has benefited from a new dining hall, rekindling hopes among learners who have been taking their food under trees.

Don Orione Special School in Kiharu Constituency has been struggling to get the much needed infrastructure which can make the mentally challenged children take their studies in a conducive environment.

The dining hall funded by the National Fund for Disabled of Kenya (NFDK) to the tune of Sh2.5 million will go a long way in ensuring that the learners take their meals in better and hygienic place.

Speaking Thursday when commissioning the new facility, NFDK Chairperson Christina Pratt said that the building will provided an ample environment for socialization among the learners, which is specifically important for children living with disabilities.

Pratt noted that NFDK came in after research was done, which established the dire need for a dining hall among other infrastructure at the institution to help in training of the children.

“Enrollment in special schools has remained a challenge due to lack of relevant infrastructural facilities and as NFDK we have endeavoured to support where possible to see to it children with disabilities get a better environment for studies,” she said.

The chairperson explained that enrollment and retention levels of children with disabilities in learning institutions can be improved, if supportive facilities like modernized dining halls, boarding amenities and well equipped classrooms are provided.

Pratt called for prudent use of funds allocated to government projects, noting that some institutions like those for children with special needs suffer because of lack of adequate resources.

“If funds given by government are prudently utilized, some schools like this one would not lack proper infrastructure to help children with  disabilities get the required equipment to support their learning,” she added, while calling on stakeholders to come up with affirmative action on supporting the mentally and physically challenged people.

The chairperson asked the school administration to apply for grants from NFDK to furnish the hall so as to allow learners to start using it.

She challenged county governments to dedicate some monies in their annual budgets towards improving infrastructure in schools, homes and rehabilitation centers for Persons with living with disabilities within their regions.

“Let us join hands and empower these children with education as this is the best sustainable gift we can give them for their future,” she added.

Meanwhile, the chairperson has urges all parents and guardians of children with disabilities countrywide to ensure they are duly captured in forthcoming census.

Getting right the number of those living with disabilities, she said, will help the government to plan and set adequate resources for their support.

“Don’t hide children with disabilities as getting the right number it will help in planning and proper allocation of funds to cater for their needs,” said the chairperson.

Don Orione special school was established in 1983 as a community based rehabilitation centre for mentally challenged children.

However, it has been not been possible to accommodate all children with needs due to lack of adequate facilities.

By Bernard Munyao

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