Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Lets get started, who are we and what is that we do?


To follow our work in rural Tanzania,close to Kenyan border. In order to properly introduce us lets catch up shortly where we've been and whats going on now on official level and of course to introduce us. 

Irente Rainbow School (IRS), the only school for disabled children and youth in the District of Lushoto, has been started in 2005 with the aim of providing services for children with mental disabilities and autism. Since 2006, the school has also been running an Outreach Program. The staff of Outreach programme includes: Project coordinator/Special education teacher, Two community rehabilitation workers and Occupational therapist.

Overall objective of the Outreach Program is “to positively contribute to the quality of life and social inclusion via supporting social, physical and cognitive development of children with disabilities, living in Lushoto District”.

Occupational Therapist Winniel Thomas 

We aim to support and educate disabled children and youth and their families or caregivers, directly in their villages and local communities (and this mostly to have a larger target group, that cannot been maintained only with the school). Beyond we work with local schools to build inclusive structures and thus the programme supports the participation of disabled children to primary education. We actively participate in negotiation around building national structures and service networks for disabled community members.

Community Rehabilitation worker Laurent Kingazi
Picture: JulieVandenborre 

The program currently works in 28 centres, in which 35 community workers, 8 inclusive classes, 8 local volunteer teachers and there is project staff of 6 (1/2) people. Right now the amount of active children in the programme is around 450. Until to this point from 2006 over 1000 children has participated in the programme or had assistance for them/their families. 

Community Rehabilitation worker Maria Kumburu 

We have four bigger function areas: 
  1. Outreach services- We provide services at the moment in 21 villages actively (and support 7 more). In all the villages we work through local structures and community leaders. We visit all villages minimum of 3 times a year for few days at a time to supervise and oversee the progress. While the outreach staff visits village they asses the children and provide assistance to family, this includes information of the disability, intervention plan and therapy methods to follow daily. 
2.    Therapy counselling and aid materials- We provide with rotating therapy counselling and services to the children and families in the programme. The demand to get the services is also parental/ caregiver participation, as this is essential requirement for the information to be passed on and intervention carried on at the natural environment as well.
  • Referrals to CCBRT-Moshi and CCBRT- Dar Es Salaam (Special hospital, surgery, more difficult cases and new medication) YDCP- Tanga (Occupational therapy tools, wheel chairs, special shoe, walking frames etc.) Luthindi Mental Hospital (Intellectual and social disabilities such as autism and mental disabilities) and Korogwe Special Clinic (Special medication, epilepsy) are organized four times a year. A list of going children is gathered when visiting villages and seeing who needs what kind of services.  
  • Therapy week in Irente Rainbow School is organized 4 times a year. The four times are organized also on rotating bases of trying to take similar disabilities for therapy at the same time. This allows the staff to concentrate to therapy methods most influence to this group and parents. This also enables parents to share experiences and get natural peer support and experiences
  • As ongoing support, we do referrals of ”emergency” or fast cases either if the need is small or very urgent. Normally these mean hospital referrals in order to get medicine for worsening situation e.g epilepsy medication or malaria medication for intellectually impaired family member.
Driver David Kiondo

3.    Inclusive structures building and support-  At the moment the programme supports 8 inclusive classes by providing help and assistance to teachers of the classes. We visit the classes quarterly when visiting the villages. Next year there will be expansion on the support to these classes. Each outreach worker will be named 1-2 classes they assist, oversee and report to the coordinator of further needs.  In all villages visited the primary solution always is school for all of the children, we assist and advice in this transfer. This always also the first goal we try to achieve with all the children in the programme. We participate in SeKomu Special education teacher training.In this phase of the project we will start active negations and discursive practices with local government of the ways outreach project can work together with the local services in order to create lasting structures for disabled community members.  
Project Assistant Helena Kipingu

4.    Building a service network and participating actively to national disability discourse-The Outreach Program is also cooperating with the Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR)– CCBRT Moshi, the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) and with medical doctors from KCMC, where the children from Lushoto District are referred to attend an “Intensive Rehabilitation Week”, during which the disabled children and youth and their parents or caretakers stay at the centres for 5 days and receive intensive training and counselling. We take active part in disability research cooperation on national and international level. 
To ensure our staffs has up-to-date knowledge and skills we keep staff training's at least twice a year and follow actively the actions and methods of other disability organizations. We follow all international guidance, national legislation and newest strategies in disability services. Our aims are greatly shaped by the national policy on disability 2004 and National Strategy on Inclusive Education 2009 – 2017. 

Project coordination and Special Education Kirsi Salo
Picture: Julie Vandenborre

We work for  the North Eastern Diocese of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (also NED – ELCT) under Directorate of Social Services. The project gets funding trough FELM from Finnish foreign ministry under developmental work on disability sector. The programme has been lined internationally with UN rights of the UN (2006) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and UNESCO (1994) Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action that internationally are the two most important disability rights/ special needs education regulating documents. We also consider the UN cross-cutting themes in all our actions. Nationally our work follows closely and has been planned based on National Policy on Disability 2004 and National Strategy on Inclusive Education 2009 – 2017. 

Our aim now is to try to move more on modern technological era. The purpose of this website is to describe our work and going-on functions, but to inform also on other disability issues and promote discussion around disability rights. It is sometimes official and sometimes less official; our formal reports etc. are a separate thing that can be found in official documentation. Your questions and opinions are important to us. 

Karibuni, Welcome!

Best Regards 
Kirsi Salo 
Programme Coordinator 

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