Can you answer Gurston’s questions?

5 August 2016

'Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green? Why is the sun hot?'

Children love to ask, 'Why?'

And we love to answer them. It's natural for us to want to satisfy their boundless curiosity.

Gurston pointing at the cameraBut how would you respond if a child were to ask:

'Why do people point at me in the street? Why are my teachers afraid of me?

'Why do other children call me an animal? Why do people say I'm hideous?'

Or what about, 'Why won't my parents let me go outside?'

With our international work across 15 countries, we've heard disabled children all around the world ask heartbreaking questions like these.

And we simply don't know what to say in response.

Why was Gurston treated differently?

Gurston from Kenya was one such child. He asked:

'Why am I treated so differently to other children?'

Gurston has curvature of the spine. He was bullied for his appearance, not only by the other children in his school, but by grown-ups too — including his teachers.

People were so afraid, they would run away from him. They thought if they got too close to him, they would catch his disability. Tragically, people were so afraid of him, he was expelled from school.

Why was Gurston able to put this behind him?

Gurston and his father searched for another school.

Their search led them to the Cheshire Home in Oriang, Kenya, a residence for disabled children and one of the many that's part of Leonard Cheshire Disability's Global Alliance.

Here, Gurston learned about our inclusive education programme, which encourages disabled children to go to school with non-disabled children.

The thought of this made Gurston nervous — he'd been horribly affected by his experiences in his last school. But when he was offered a place at Oriang Primary School, he bravely accepted.

Why did Gurston love his new school?

Finally, Gurston had found a place where there was no prejudice.

Gurston surrounded by his new friends at school

His new teachers taught him maths and literacy, subjects he had struggled with in the past.

He made friends, who helped him carry his books to school. His new teachers were supportive, not bullies — trained by Leonard Cheshire Disability to understand his disability.

Best of all, it was at Oriang Primary School that Gurston was introduced to music. He discovered his love for singing, performing and writing songs.

Why didn't it last?

With Leonard Cheshire Disability on his side, Gurston finished primary education. In fact, he did so well in his exams that he was invited to join Wang'apala Secondary School.

But there his troubles started all over again, as he was subject once more to cruel bullying.

What did we do about it?

Gurston knew he couldn't let things end up like last time. So he spoke to the Leonard Cheshire Disability staff at Oriang Cheshire Home.

We went to his school and trained the teachers and schoolmates on inclusiveness. We worked collaboratively with the school to make small changes.

Very soon, Gurston had settled in and started attending lessons again. He even found the confidence to perform his songs in front of his new classmates.

Why do we need you to set up a regular gift today?

Between 2010 and 2015, Leonard Cheshire Disability helped around 50,000 people gain access to inclusive education and livelihoods programmes. Our goal is to support twice as many people in the next five years.

Please become a regular donor to Leonard Cheshire Disability today. Your ongoing contributions could create lasting change that will benefit disabled children for years to come.

  • £3 a month could go towards making schools in emergent nations more accommodating to disabled students, by providing teacher training and accessible learning materials.
  • £5 a month can give a disabled child in the developing world the means to get themselves to school. Your monthly donations could help purchase the things they need, like school uniforms or a wheelchair.
  • £10 a month could go towards adaptations to a school or community, providing things like accessible toilets and ramps. This infrastructure will improve the long-term prospects of disabled people in developing countries.

Leonard Cheshire Disability depends on the generosity of people like you, but we desperately need more support to ensure we can reach people in the greatest need. Donate now.

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