For every 3 months group, a Fathers’ Day is organized within the first three weeks into the program, and sometimes, towards the end of the program, to give fathers an opportunity to learn on different issues around their childerens’ disabilities.
This is so because, in most cases, responsibilities around disabled children are often left to the mothers, and mothers always have to take the blame for the disability, which is evident as 100% of the caretakers in the program are often women, and about 70% of the women are single mothers.
In very rare occasions you will see fathers accompany their wives to the center for appointments, or offering to stay with the child for three months. Through these meetings, fathers are educated on different causes of disabilities, prevention, treatments among others as well as encouraged to take on more responsiblilty and support the mothers. These meetings have been very successful in the past as we see very positive changes in attitudes of the fathers towards their children and wives, hence more commitment to the program, hence more positive results in the development of the children.
For the first group in 2020, the fathers’ day was held on 07th February 2020, where 23 out of 30 parents attended the meeting. The meeting was facilitated by the 3 months group teachers, social workers, assistant therapists, and house mothers, in collaboration with the PC. The teachers presented on causes of mental disabilities whereby each mental disability and causes was discussed in length. This topic often helps remove the stigma that mental disability is as a result of witchcraft or some evil doing by the mothers. The assistant therapists talked on the different developmental stages in children as well as the need and use of different assistive devices. The developmental stages topic puts the fathers in the know about every milestone, and how important it is, and that every child is different and different stages take different times in every child depending on the level of disability. Sometimes most parents complain why child so and so has a certain assistive device and not their child, so it is very key that in these meetings they are explained on who needs what device and why. Also, speech stimulation, balanced diet and feeding were discussed in length.
The PC urged fathers to accept the disabilities, take up their space in their children’s lives and work hand in hand with the mothers and service providers to give their children as much support as possible. The fathers were quite enthusiastic about the whole training, and already there has been quite some positive reports from th mothers on the attitudes of the fathers towards them anfd their children. Hopefully this will go on and there will be lots of positive impact on the development of the children.