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Jethro: breaking the stigma

Jethro is an eight-year-old boy living in Central Uganda. We met his family during our outreach to community members facing economic hardship due to the pandemic. We provided food and other necessities to families who required urgent support.

As a baby and a toddler, Jethro was typically developing until it became evident that he could not speak. After developing a speech disorder, his parents separated, and Jethro was sent to live with his grandmother and one of his older sisters in a different village.

Around the world, it is very common for families to split apart because of the stigma attached to disabilities. Though Jethro does not speak, he communicates with facial expressions and is a joyful child. His grandmother took him to a nearby pre-primary school, but it did not have the proper resources to meet his special needs.

Part of our future work that we hope to accomplish over the next few years in Central Uganda will be to support local schools to be inclusive at all levels so that Jethro, and other children who experience disabilities, can learn alongside their peers. We are also working with the church, school leaders, and local radio shows to spread awareness about people who experience disabilities to help break the existing stigma. It is imperative that children of all abilities can learn together. It is also vital that people who experience disabilities are valued for their unique gifts to create communities of belonging.  In the meantime, our partners in Uganda are working to connect Jethro with speech therapy while they continue to meet his everyday needs. 

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