KSMH maintains spat over disability cash

April 5, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 5 – The Kenya Society for the Mentally Handicapped (KSMH) has denied accusations by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights that they advocated for the mistreatment of adults and children with mental disability by exposing them to the public.

The outcry came after a demonstration by the mentally handicapped and their parents who demanded a release by the government of their monthly stipend allocated two years ago.  

KSMH Chief Executive Officer Edah Maina said on Tuesday that the demonstrators were asking for their rights and as entrenched in the new constitution.

“They put us together with people who do not see the things (as we see them) because their needs are different. This has led parents of people with mental disability to be seen as if they are not working well with others,” she stated.

She took issue with the way the human rights body handled the issue saying that they should have considered the sufferings of people with mental disabilities.

“The kind of needs that the people with mental disability have is completely different from the needs that the other people have but when they are forced to come together and discuss these issues, there are a lot of conflicting issues and voices come out,” she pointed out.

She stated that during the demonstration, there was no cause for alarm since parents accompanied the children.

“We work with everybody, with all the age groups of people with mental disability. We want to know who they are. There is always this feed back that we always get that these people do not have phones and only come when they want to. How can we continue getting those kinds of explanation?” she posed.

At the same time, she accused the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Services of not doing enough to address the needs of people with mental disability.

Mrs Maina said that the funds set aside to address their needs have not been disbursed and utilised properly leading to the degradation of their condition. She urged the ministry to fully account for the monies and reveal the names of the beneficiaries of the Cash Transfer programme.

“In Kenya, the estimates are 3.6 million people with mental disability. Most of them are not seen because they are hidden, confined and placed in very difficult circumstances because the parents are faced with stigma,” she observed.

She also sought for an explanation should be given on how the fund for severely disabled people is being allocated terming the process as it is now as vague and ambiguous.

“If a person who is deaf or totally blind is given the kind of support a person with mental disability will require, that person might use their skills to progress in life. What is the difference with the one with mental disability?” she posed. 

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