Disability in Kenya
Hands Around the World (HATW) sent me to the Disability Community Centre in M for 6 months to work as an SLT in response to their request. The DCC offers Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Services to all people with disabilities within the area. My role was to assess the need for Speech and Language Therapy input in this community and begin to try and identify ways of working with the team.
During my stay I worked on a number of different objectives that were agreed jointly with the team. It was decided that all my work would take place in collaboration with other team members in order to create something sustainable and appropriate for the local community. I was heavily involved in encouraging multi-disciplinary assessment and working with the team on how they support parents to understand their disabled child. As a team we devised functional action plans to address all areas of development and supported the parents to carry them out. My focus was raising awareness about communication difficulties and the importance of early identification to other professionals. This happened through joint working and a number of training programmes.
I found the placement challenging but very rewarding. It took time to understand the community and their needs and to create strong working relationships with the DCC team members. Initially it was difficult for me to identify my role as there was a lack of systems to support the valuable work that they were doing. The team had no idea of what an SLT could offer to them and therefore how we could work together. I had also arrived during a big time of transition as the team were adjusting to a whole new philosophy of working (CBR) and a new director. I was fortunate to be part of the training received by the team and this gave me a chance to learn with them and be included in discussions about how the team could develop.
There are some political issues that seem to affect the running and success of the DCC. People have taken time to adjust to the new director who is actually Kenyan (the previous director was English) There had been some complex dynamics which appeared to have impacted on the working relationships within the team. I felt that these issues were beginning to resolve as I was leaving and certainly I observed a team who were actually pulling together as a team rather than working in isolation. However it may be important to consider the skills of future volunteers. This could mean not necessarily SLTs going out but rather a range of professionals who could offer further training to the team. What will be essential is skills and experience in working closely with other professionals in a team and good communication skills.
The DCC team reported that they found it very useful working with me particularly in terms of my role of encouraging multi-disciplinary working. They all agreed they had a greater understanding of communication difficulties. I felt that the structures we had begun to put in place were working but remained a bit shaky and will continue to require support over the coming months. In my opinion it is excellent that another SLT has gone out immediately to enable the continuation of the work started and allow us to assess the need for further SLTís or indeed a range of other professionals.
Currently there are very few SLTís in
I have benefited enormously on a personal level and really feel I have gone through a life changing experience. I hope one day that I get the chance to return to
Speech and Language Therapist