Jessica, 14, rushes into the arms of Shelmith Wamuiga, a caregiver at Nakuru Hills Special School.
The embrace seems to last forever as Ms Wamuiga wipes her drooling mouth.
Jessica, is mentally challenged and like many others in the school, finds solace in the caregivers.
Wamuiga, a trainee caregiver at Rafa Homecare reports to duty on a daily basis.
“It is a wonderful experience and these children literally win you over. It is the little things we do here that brighten the day for them,” she says.
The centre was started by David Maina, an occupational physiotherapist to bridge the gap of untrained caregivers in schools for the disabled and homes for the elderly.
“I realised there was need for trained caregivers especially in special needs schools where teachers double up as caregivers, which is tedious. Currently, no special needs schools have trained caregivers despite playing a key role,” says Mr Maina.
The course, he explains covers caregivers in elderly homes, nannies and adults taking care of a person with special needs and any other person including teachers.
“The caregivers are not trained on medical procedures but on first aid, responding to small accidents, and offering emotional and psychological support to the person,” he says.
In special needs schools, caregivers offer services including feeding, toileting, wheeling, attending to children who sometimes experience seizures, cleaning them and even identifying depression.
The centre which started in 2016 trains 25 students for at least three months for Sh20,000, after which they are linked to institutions in need of caregiving services.
“Most of these students are those who have been linked to jobs abroad and they come here to train before they leave. Non-Governmental Organisations and even private homes that have relatives living with disabilities are often in need of services from these students too,” he said.
The training centre, also receives students under government funded Kenya Youth Employment Opportunities Project.
Maina discloses that Pangani Special School, Nakuru Hills Special School and Tree Side Special School in Nairobi have benefited from the programme.
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