Society offers support network as Kenya marks global Down Syndrome day 25 Mar 2011
It was only four months later when her baby boy, James, fell sick and was rushed to Agha khan Hospital in Kisumu that she was informed he has Down syndrome. James is one in 800 babies born with the condition every year. James, who is now 8 years old is one of approximately 45,000 Kenyans who live with Down Syndrome and to whom World down syndrome day, celebrated on the 21st day March every year, is set aside.
Down syndrome is a genetic condition in which a person has 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46. What exactly causes the abnormality is still not known. Down syndrome can manifest in more than 50 different ways varying from mild to severe. But the common effect of the condition is that the child appears different physically, manifests delayed development and exhibits learning difficulties.
James Maingi, the Programmes Officer at the Down Syndrome Society of Kenya (DSSK) says its important for parents of persons with DS to find a support mechanism because they undergo many challenges ranging from health issues to stigma and misinformation. Hence, it is helpful for them to come together and share hope, truth, love and awareness about Down Syndrome.
“The Down Syndrome Society of Kenya has established groups in all major towns. That is Eldoret, Kisumu, Nakuru, Embu, Mombasa Nyeri, and Kakamega. Most of these groups are registered as CBO’s and are involved in support, counselling and economic empowerment of these families,” Mr. Maingi says. According to Mr. Maingi, the Down Syndrome Society of Kenya has a national membership of over 5000 individual persons and affiliate groups all over the country and most of the down syndrome support are registered as Community based organizations that are involved in support, counselling and economic empowerment of these families.
Gladys Amisi and other parents of people with Down syndrome can come together at any of these support groups to escape the stigma, myth and misinformation associated with Down syndrome.
The KenyaKidz website, http://www.KenyaKidz.com, is currently under maintenance.