Jethro: Breaking the Stigma
Written by: Mark Wallace, Executive Director of Organizational Culture & International Partners
Jethro is an eight-year-old boy living in Central Uganda. Jethro and his family, like so many others, are facing significant financial hardships because of the pandemic. Through generous donations, we are able to provide food and other necessities.
Early on in his life, Jethro showed signs of a disability affecting his speech. His parents were overwhelmed by this, 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 needs. Our partners in Uganda are working 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, local 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 gifts and contributions. In the meantime, our partners in Uganda are working to connect Jethro to a speech therapist while they continue to meet his everyday needs.