As the day winds to a close, we cannot help but look back and say “amazing progress!” Today our day was filled with so many accomplishments. We have been well received by the Ugandans and truly see their deep desire to insert CLASP’s programming in the country. Our Ugandan guide Titi Pamela Kakonge, founder to Tunaweza Children’s Center in Kampala, established appointments for us to meet with government, hospital and university officials, ensuring that we take the correct steps in launching our programs. A Lawyer by trade, Titi contacted Clasp International because of a personal situation she faced with her own daughter who has a learning disability secondary to a brain injury at birth. Her child was born still-born and was resuscitated back to life. A child now known to suffer through severe seizures and a learning disability, Gabby as well as Titi were considered very different than most families in her culture as they beat the odds and were well supported by family and friends rather than considered to be an outcast as some tend to do. Titi knows firsthand the hardships of employing the needed professionals to render the services her child required to live a more independent life. After numerous trips to the United States to gain access to the services necessary for her daughter, Titi decided to build her own center for children with disabilities in Kampala, Uganda. Open less than a year, Tunaweza Children’s Center serves the Kampala community by providing children with special needs occupational therapy, physical therapy, special education support, and one day hopes to have speech-language therapy offered. Most of the professionals employed at the center are diploma prepared or volunteers who stay for 3-6 months. When Titi heard about CLASP’s mission, she jumped at the chance to have the program introduced to the professionals of Uganda. With a capacity of only 26 children, Titi hopes with the aide of CLASP International’s self-sustaining programing, she will be able to employ more competent professionals, in turn helping more children in the community.
Our day began meeting with the Commissioner of Health Services at the Ministry of Health, where we were able to gain information about bringing sustainable programing to the Milago Medical School through Makerere University. We were guided to meet with The Minister of Health, who is also head of the ear, nose and throat (ENT) department at Makerere University. This meeting consisted of meeting with the university officials to discuss the curriculums offered in Speech-Language Pathologist, Audiologist and NICU Nursing. The curriculum was received with a sense of excitement and honor as the university officials see the need clearly and see that CLASP has established programming in Lusaka and Nairobi. CLASP’s name and accomplishments now carry itself with the officials truly desiring the programs to be established in their country as well. We were then guided to meet with the Minister of Education to begin the steps of pairing up the Ministry of Heath and Ministry of Education to jointly accept a registry for the professions under both Ministries. This gained outstanding approval and CLASP is ready to get started on the necessary steps to make this happen. To have the Ministries accepting the programs, establishing the registries, and sketching out job placements for these future speech-language pathologists is amazing to see.
After Lunch, Titi gave us a tour of her children’s center where we witnessed the amazing work her staff does with children with disabilities. It is truly overwhelming to see what she has accomplished with so little materials and such a short amount of time. Next door to the children’s home, we then visited the deaf school of Uganda, where we met the head of the school who provided us with a tour of the facility and gave us a snap shot of the inner workings of the School. This will be anamazing placement for a practical setting for the speech-language pathology program and the audiology program as 218 hearing impaired children call this facility their permanent home.
We rounded out the day with an appointment with the founders of Family Care Hospital in Nigra, Uganda. Family Care Hospital is a fairly new hospital where holistic and preventative care medical needs are met by a physicians and nurses. Only in its infancy stage, Family Care Hospital will begin by doing community outreach and in the future will develop into a 24 hour urgent care facility. The team at Family Care Hospital wants Clasp’s input and assistance with organizing community outreach programs, which will serves as both preventative care and diagnostic medicine.
We are extremely excited to embark on this endeavor with the country of Uganda. Through hard work and diligence we will have these programs up and running, allowing renewed hope for those families who could not find help in the past.