Bold Question: How might we support youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities to discover and develop their skills and talents to attain maximum independence?
Path to Metis: A tired mother in a slum in Kajiado county, having to carry an 11year old boy with cerebral palsy the whole day because she can’t afford a siting aid or a standing frame; a young lady with autism has exceptional clerical skills but can’t find employment since she lacks verbal skills; a 50 year old man with intellectual disability who has been locked up in the house for 17 years so that his mother can go to work to provide for him and also to “protect” him from stigmatization; a single mother who can’t afford quality education for her son with hydrocephaly so at the age of 10 her son has never gone to school; a single mother to a child with autism commits suicide and the child is given to the care of relatives in the rural area who know little or nothing about autism.
These experiences are what led Evalyne to create solutions that will ensure individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities from all walks of life get to experience a quality life. Evalyne is a strong believer that everyone deserves an opportunity to discover, develop. and grow their skills and talents. Sadly, through her experience and interactions, Evalyne has seen that’s not the reality for most individuals with intellectual and developmental disability in Kenya.
Quality education is affordable only to a certain group of people, allocation of proper resources like sitting aids, communication aids, standing frames and toilet training equipment are only afforded by the elite group as they are scarce and expensive. There are few vocational training programs for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Kenya.
Having been able to immerse herself into the lives of youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Kenya and able to see the untapped potential, diversity in talent, and resilience they would bring has given Evalyne passion and drive leading her to start Anapendeza. Anapendeza provides quality home-based educational programs, vocational training programs, and work readiness program to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The aim is to provide affordable educational services, ensuring youth are imparted with skills to improve their livelihood and that they are integrated at the workplace. In 2019, Evalyne has trained 20 youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities on work readiness skills and provided them a job shadowing experience. Evalyne has also run two campaigns in two counties, Kajiado and Nairobi, to create awareness on the need for inclusion.
In addition, she has been able to train 30 parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Kajiado county on evidence based best practices that they can be able to use at home to help their children improve on social skills, communication skills, and life skills. The impact created through Anapendeza, seeing the smiles on the youth she works with, the stories of hope from the parents and the positive remarks from the partner organisations, makes her come alive.