Motivation's Parent and Carer training introduces mothers of disabled children to one another and builds a sense of community. Find out more.

In a yard just outside Kampala, Uganda, nine mothers and their disabled children came together. They looked nervous. It was the first time they had met each other, and the first time many of them had seen a disabled child who wasn’t their own. This was their first Motivation Parent & Carer Training (PCT) session. 

In Uganda, many communities believe that disability is a curse or a punishment for a parent’s past sin. As a result, families with disabled children become isolated from their neighbours and hide themselves away. These  children grow into adults who are also hidden from the community. The cycle of stigma is hard to break.

Lucy and Susan approach the group and call them into a small room for the training to begin. They have both been facilitators for a long time. In fact, they attended this training themselves a few years ago - and now they want to share what they'd learnt. Lucy and Susan remember what it was like to feel alone and hopeless. They are determined to now connect with many parents of disabled children as they can.

Lucy explained to the group that when her daughter, Waldah, was first diagnosed, she didn’t understand cerebral palsy.

When Waldah was a baby, she would stare up at me, smile at me. I would look down at her and love my child… Then I learned that Waldah couldn’t see. Cerebral palsy made her eyesight poor and she had not been looking at me. It broke my heart.

She explained her friends and family rejected her and she was fired from her job. People would laugh at her and point at Waldah. It wasn’t until she was able to take Waldah to hospital that she realised there were others like her.

One of the mothers burst into tears. She said that being here with the group helped her to see that she didn’t need to feel alone. She felt emotional because she was hopeful for the first time.

Lucy went on:

…And if we work together as a team, we can be confident. And that will improve our children’s lives! We can visit one another and boost each other in the community. Our neighbours will notice – “someone with a disabled child is receiving visitors!” – and this will help to break that stigma.

One by one, the women started to share their experiences and understanding of their child's disability. One woman said that her child is a twin. In Uganda, twins are very special, so she was told to only take her child to a traditional healer rather than a hospital.

Another woman said that her father-in-law was shouting at her while she gave birth and she believed that this anger caused her baby's disability.

Many of the mothers were told their children were victims of witchcraft or had been ‘born tired’.

Susan explained what cerebral palsy is and what may have caused it. She told the mothers that, although it cannot be cured, it can be improved. She emphasised that it is a brain injury, a condition not limited by age, and that it exists in the Western world as well as in Africa.

The group agreed when they would meet again before they left, and everyone committed to the ten session course.

As she said goodbye to the mothers, Lucy reminded them:

Do not go to traditional healers. Go to the hospitals and do whatever they tell you to do to make your child better.

Motivation’s Parent Carer Training has been changing the lives of parents like Lucy, Susan and the nine mothers we met in Uganda since 2004. The sessions cover care for a child with cerebral palsy, how to integrate into the community and mobility skills. 

Now more than ever we need to support mothers of vulnerable disabled children. Please donate today