- What is your name, where are you from (city and Country)?
My name is Christine Miloyo Ombima from Nairobi, Kenya, Embakasi to be precise.
- In one paragraph, briefly describe your project.
My project is about mental health wellness in young children 3 years to 5 years who have the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Children with ASD often see things from a different perspective, have low comprehension and are often withdrawn and not social. It is for this reason that my project ‘Grooving with Autism’ serves the purpose of connecting with these young ones in their tiny little world. This can be achieved by making life interesting to them by using music, art and sports to teach them daily living skills, communication skills as well as social skills. On the other hand, it also involves bring their parents as their main caregivers at the center of this initiative by engaging them in the day to day lessons of developing a better them. Further, the use of culture as an income generating tool through teaching the parents a hands-on skill helps in generating income for the family to cater for the needs of this special child. The ripple effect of the project is that it seeks also to unite the community in helping raising this child through collective responsibility. The overall goal of the project is that at the end of the fellowship all interventions will be documented in a curriculum.
- What motivated you to start your project?
My motivation to start this projected is dated way back in 2006 after I had finished Form four. This is the time I was available to engage full time in Children’s ministry as a Sunday School teacher. It was at this time that they had introduced the option of parents with special needs to bring their child in for the service and they were integrated in the regular classes. Now on this day I was busy up and down I didn’t even notice that we had a special child in our midst. In the midst of all these activities, the young girl for a reason not known to me had decided to undress put her clothes inside the toilet bowl and climb down the stairs to go get her mum in church. An instinct just told me to check around and see if all the children were in class and no one was playing outside. That is when I spotted this young girl without clothes in a hurry to get into the sanctuary, the adrenaline rush made me so swift that I didn’t know how I took that baby in my arms and took her in. We tried talking to her she was not responding and we decided to act fast that is when we dressed her in an oversize pullover that someone had left behind. Our main worry was what we would tell her mum after this incident. When church was over her mum came and we had to narrate to her the whole incident. Tears were rolling down her cheeks. It was then that I came to hear for the first time that this child had low functioning autism. Indeed I was very sentimental, and empathized with what this mum goes through each day raising such a child. From then on, I gained a lot of interest in handling children with special needs through my gifts and abilities and encouraging the parents to be strong while raising these children.
- How did you hear about Akili Dada? What motivated you to apply for the fellowship program?
I heard about the program from a friend of mine who shared with me the link on Facebook.
My motivation to apply for the fellowship program was heightened after I attended an event dubbed ‘Turning Lemon into Lemonade’ where the Akili Dada Executive Director Purity Kagwiria was among the panellists. The way she talked so passionately about the program made me more eager to become part of it. The theme of the talk related so much with what I have been through as an individual with a mental health condition. It opened up my eyes to the broader picture that I can this fellowship can be a stepping stone to making it in life since I had started my organization when getting and keeping a job had proved futile due to my mental condition (Bipolar Disorder).
- What Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) does your project seek to address?
The Grooving with Autism project is addressing SDG 3 – Good Health and SDG 4- Quality Education for special needs children.
- What is your ultimate goal for your project?
The ultimate goal of ‘Grooving with Autism’ is to create awareness on Autism and how to manage children with this disorder. It also seeks to reduce the stigma associated with parents having such and children and demystifying the myths that children with this condition are a misfit and a taboo in the society.
- Which one word best describes you?
- What do you do for fun?
I listen to music and dance.
- Where is the one place in the world (if money and time was not a factor) that you would like to go? Why?
The United Kingdom. I have always dreamed of meeting with the Executive Directors of international NGOs based in London so that I can help them support raise and mobilize resources for needy special needs children in Kenya.
- What is your favorite food?
Chapati and chicken
- If you could change the world, what one thing would you want to change?
Inequalities and discrimination on people who are abled differently (Persons With Disabilities – PWDs).