Many members of society view persons with disabilities as vulnerable groups, who are most likely to be attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.
Many families that have children with disabilities, therefore, hide them at home for fear of their getting stigmatised or intimidated by other people.
In this 21st century, however, that should be a thing of the past.
As it is said, disability is not inability. They, too, have abilities and rights just like every other member of society. They should be let to live, interact and share their views freely like any other person. Parents should, therefore, stop the habit of hiding such children in the house.
Instead, such children should be exposed to the outside world for them to learn new ideas and life skills and, hence, live freely with the other members of society. By so doing, the children will grow up knowing that society appreciates and accepts them as they are, their disability notwithstanding.
Does disability mean they cannot work? Does it mean they can’t get an education? Or does it mean they can’t be great leaders in any sector, including in politics, business, academia or any other organisation? These are some of the questions that parents of children with disabilities should ask themselves.
Around the world, including in Kenya, we have seen various persons with disabilities rise to prominence and become respected members of society.
Assume they were hidden in the house by their parents and not exposed to the outside world, would they have become the respected leaders that they are?
Let the parents take these children to school and let them get educated and be moulded into responsible citizens of tomorrow, who shall rise to take the nation to another level.
They should not fear stigmatisation. There are many special needs schools scattered all over the country, where they can learn in a favourable environment with others who have a similar condition.
However, not all will succeed in their education but that does not mean the end to them. They can still be exposed to artisanal and other skills of their choice to fulfil their dreams. Also, some of them are talented in various sports, such as ball games and athletics, to mention but two.
There are also fields such as arts, in which they can flourish.
In so doing, these children will appreciate community and what it offers.
The government ministry, department or agency responsible for the welfare of persons with disabilities should come out and support them by financing their studies, providing them with the required basic needs, including assistive devices, and even establish sites dedicated to facilitating them to get jobs.
Hiding a person with disability is denying them a chance at life.
Elija Achuoyo, Siaya