Shropshire Star

Powys charity volunteers ready for Kenya trip

Three volunteers for a charity are ready for a two-week trip to help disabled children in Kenya.

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Recycled paper and cardboard can be used to refurbish or create chairs and standing aids for disabled children

Cath Barton, Deb May and Ruth Stevens are all set to travel to Kenya on Saturday morning, where they will work for two weeks to aid disabled children in the rural town of Njoro, in the Rift Valley of Kenya.

The new charity, Appropriate Paper-Based Technology for Social Development (APT) was set up during lockdown of 2020, with workshops in Welshpool and Talybont-on-Usk.

It was formed in 2020 because trustees had witnessed first hand the difficulties that people living in rural Kenya face due to poverty and poor health care and how disability and poor physical and mental health can lead to stigma and isolation.

The charity uses recycled paper and cardboard, together with a readily available flour-based glue, to make chairs and standing frames from children with cerebral palsy.

This process can also be turned to various other construction projects, such as making furniture – the sale of which can help fund the manufacture of more important items.

Families who have children with physical disabilities in rural areas of Kenya do not have any equipment that enables the child to sit up or stand.

Any such equipment is either not available or is too expensive to afford.

Pediatric physiotherapist Cath Barton said: "The charity was set up during lockdown of 2020 when we got grant funding to be able to proceed. The chair of the charity, Dr Rachel Lindoewood, set up clinics in Kenya for kids with disabilities in 1996, and she worked there for nine years.

"She now works in Powys as community pediatrician, but she has done lots of work behind scenes to make this all possible.

"This trip is two weeks, but within that trip we are training full on. We are training six ATP workshop staff, who will run three workshops in rural areas. Alongside that we will train eight therapists, who will be able to assess children's needs, how to measure them for seating and standing frames so they can work with workshops to make what is required."

In Njoro and the even more remote areas that Cath, Deb and Ruth will be visiting, the average child who has mobility issues related to cerebral palsy lies on the ground, or on a mattress.

An ATP constructed chair, or standing aid, would potentially give children the chance to be more sociable, to spend time around people, and to spend time outdoors which would also improve their health.

Cath will bring her experience as a physo, with a specialism in neurology, while Deb May is a pediatric occupational therapist, and Ruth Stevens chairs The Potter's House, the community organisation in Njoro that the three will be working with.

Grants and donations mean that the workshop staff and materials can be funded until the autumn. Recently two organisations have stepped in with donations. Jenx Ltd, Quest 88, The Gibbs Trust, PAVO and Hub Cymru Africa have all contributed to the cause.

Anyone wishing to find out more can contact APT4SocialDevelopmenton

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