Gradus Ochieng, 19, was out of school for six years due to sickness but managed to complete his primary education and garner good marks. What started off as mild pains on the legs of the then ten-year-old boy gradually turned out to be the family’s nightmare. They moved to different hospitals unsuccessfully seeking treatment. In 2006, Ochieng was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
“I had to drop out of school soon afterwards. I had been treated for a number of months, then doctors told my parents that I had cerebral palsy,” he says. He was unable to walk and had to start using a wheelchair.
However, in 2012, World Vision Kenya through Winam ADP paid his fees for a special school in Kisumu County. He was admitted at St Martins Depores School for Cerebral Palsy Children Nyabondo in Standard Six. The organisation paid his fee until he completed his primary education in 2014.
He scored 351 marks out of the possible 500 after sitting for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations. He emerged the top candidate in a class of 26 special children.
“I am very excited about my results. I now have a chance of achieving my dreams,” says Ochieng, who would like to pursue a degree in law, after completion of secondary education. He adds with a grin: “When I complete my education, I would like to defend and support children through advocating for their rights as a lawyer.”
Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that involve brain and nervous system functions, such as movement, learning, hearing, seeing and thinking. Ochieng was among 695 candidates with physical disabilities who sat for KCPE in 2014. According to the Cerebral Palsy Society of Kenya there are no lucid statistics on cerebral palsy; but inferred statistics indicate that an estimated three in every 100 children in the country live with the condition.
Ochieng says his parents had given up hope of him continuing with his education. “World Vision came to my rescue when there was doom in my life. For that I will always be thankful to them,” says Ochieng, who is a registered child in the sponsorship programme. But to register the good performance, he had to wake up at 4am to study and go to bed at 10pm. “I had to put in extra time for my studies. I will not let my condition affect my education,” he says resolutely.
He started his education at Kuodho Primary school, in Nyawita area, but sickness made him to discontinue in 2006. Ochieng’s uncle Kevin Omondi says the family is happy about his performance, and hope that he will gain admission to a special institution for his secondary education. Ochieng is among 2250 registered children in Winam ADP, which is set to phase out at the end of 2015 Financial Year.
Communication Officer World Vision Kenya