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If you had a child born with an intellectual disability that made him or her an outcast or pariah in society’s eyes, what would you do?  If there were no activism such as Autism Speaks, no differentiated special education, no early intervention, nothing, 

where would you turn?

This is the void that EdPowerment seeks to fill. These are the individuals whom we are trying to acknowledge, educate, encourage and strengthen.
On November 16th, ACT hosted its annual fall workshop – its 10th special needs event – at the Gabriella Children’s Rehabilitative Centre.  Over 80 teachers and parents overcame blistering heat to seek guidance and share experiences. Coming from a host of villages – Old Moshi, Sanya Ju, Marangu, Manyara, Mto Wa Mbu, Same, Mwanga and even Arusha, they demonstrated EdPowerment’s widening reach.

Beginning at 9:30, the meeting did not break up until 4:30. Facilitators from KCMC (Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center), BCC (Building a Caring Community) and Muccobs Ushirika University led discussions on the emotional and societal pressures of caring for youth with autism and other disabilities.  Speakers explained the concept and importance of parental or caregiver support groups. They offered advice on how to organize these vital sources of sustenance.

Participants also sought help with how to mobilize support or intervention from local governments and authorities for hostility that often confronts disabled youth, including sexual abuse.  Speakers suggested strategies to work for rights in civil structures that themselves often ignore, or worse, abuse the disabled.
As hosts, Grace Lyimo, Brenda Shuma and Anthony Ephraim, wrapped up the meeting, attendees mobilized to carry out what they learned about forming support groups when they return to their villages.  Everyone agreed on follow-up procedures and eagerly suggested topics, speakers and guests for the Spring 2014 workshop.

Mama Grace and Brenda Shuma field questions at ACT’s Workshop
Last Saturday, November 16, was another momentous day for EdPowerment’s work in Tanzania.  As increasingly occurs, things were happening on more than one front.  While we were channeling help for the disabled in one place, our first sponsored student was receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in another .  Our next post will share that joyous occasion.