Live film launch and panel discussion

Removing barriers to education for children with disabilities in Kenya

On the 11th March 2024, we were delighted to welcome loyal supporters and new friends to our webinar as we launched our new film and discussed our work removing barriers to education for children living with disability in Kenya. The engagement was fabulous, with great questions from the attendees and informative and inspirational answers from our amazing panellists.

In case you missed it, we are very happy to share the link to the webinar recording, sit back and get inspired!


The Film

In the film, we follow Daina, our Disability Programme Manager in Kenya, as she visits two of Rafiki Thabo’s programme partners, Autism Society of Kenya and Dadashi Special Children’s Centre, and one of our current scholars. Daina speaks to teachers, caregivers, parents, and children whose lives are improved through our work. The film highlights the struggles of parents of children living with disability, the challenges and the reality the children face, the incredibly positive impact the therapy and treatment they now receive has on their life and how they can go on to further their future opportunities in life as Rafiki Thabo scholars. The film is introduced by our wonderful patrons Amar Latif and Harry Baker.

Our film is available on YouTube for you to enjoy.


The Panel Discussion & Q&A

After the film we invited our guests to meet our panellists, all of whom are passionate about enabling access to education for children with disabilities. They were very excited to take this opportunity to meet our supporters and answer their many excellent questions. Our panellists also shared their thoughts on the importance of education and in particular removing barriers for young people living with disabilities in Kenya, a country where, despite the government introducing some progressive disability inclusion policies many still stigmatise and ostracise people living with disabilities. Through the amazing work of our Kenyan partner organisations, these children and their families are given hope, parents are trained so that they can help their children and given skills so that they can earn a living, children are given therapy and education, and many become Rafiki Thabo scholars once they able to move into the school system.

Thanks to the wonder of technology, you now also have the opportunity to get a better understanding of the work we do, the incredible impact our supporters enable us to have on the young lives of those we seek to empower and how, should you be inspired to, you can get involved! Watch the full recording of our webinar today!


Meet our wonderful panellists: 

Amar Latif OBE – Amar is an inspirational TV presenter, adventurer, world-traveller, and entrepreneur. Amar completely lost his sight at 18 years old, but with his determination not to let his perceived disability stand in his way and with the support of his family, he went on to fulfil his dreams, pursuing a career in finance before setting up his own travel company. In 2023 he was awarded an OBE in recognition of his services to the visually impaired and to entrepreneurship. After working with us on our BBC Radio 4 Appeal in 2022, Amar wholeheartedly embraced the opportunity to become our patron. With his inspirational story, his personal connection to our work and the emotional affinity he feels with the children we support, Amar’s patronage has such genuine integrity, and he is a wonderful role model to our scholars and graduates. Amar is passionate about helping us ensure that we can support as many young lives as possible through our work, and in 2023 took on one of his toughest challenges to date to do just that, as he climbed Kilimanjaro to raise awareness and funds for Rafiki Thabo.

Harry Baker – Harry was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at birth and his parents were told he wouldn’t walk; he would never achieve anything. With the support of his family and his school, together with sheer determination and perseverance, Harry proved the doctors wrong. He worked hard to master walking, and that was only the start. Despite being bullied at school for wearing a leg brace and walking strangely, he had the support and resilience to push through these challenges and secure his education while also becoming a standout footballer – so much so that he was scouted, and now plays for England! Harry’s successful football career reached new heights in 2023 when as part of the England International Cerebral Palsy Football team he brought home a silver medal from the European Championships. Harry is passionate about boosting awareness of people living with disabilities and is actively reaching out to the younger generation to help them understand and be sympathetic to different abilities and also to encourage them to never give up on their dreams regardless of how insurmountable their challenge may be. Harry really is such an inspiration and role model to our scholars and graduates and has joined several major fundraising events as our patron since 2021, joining Amar as they summitted Kilimanjaro together last year. 

Daina Kibera – Rafiki Thabo’s Disability Programme Manager in Kenya. A social worker by profession, Daina has dedicated her life to ensuring children and young people with disabilities are given the educational opportunities they deserve. Daina worked for ACACIA UK, with whom we merged in 2022, for 17 years and we were delighted that she agreed to join the Rafiki Thabo team when we merged. As well as managing our partnerships with ASK and Dadashi Special Children’s Centre Daina also has oversight of our scholars and graduates studying in and around Thika, many of whom are street children or living with disabilities and provides them with additional mentoring support where required.  

Ayiesa Ohese – Having been born into poverty and out of wedlock, raised by his grandparents as his mother had to leave for the city to work, Ayiesa’s story could have turned out very differently. Instead, Ayiesa had endless determination and from primary school age worked as a casual labourer to pay for his primary education. His secondary education cost too much, so instead he borrowed his friends’ books and self-studied at home, paying to sit the National Examination. This remarkable young man went on to university and struggled to make ends meet however he could but then applied to us for a scholarship and we supported him through the final years of his degree. He has since gone on to achieve incredible things, owning several small businesses and now working as an Auditor for the Kenyan Ministry of the National Treasury. He provides a safe, good life for his wife and children, including an adopted daughter, and is also heavily involved with the running of Dadashi Special Children’s Centre, which his mother-in-law leads.

Jon Uglow – Jon spent 8 months in rural Kenya in his late teens with the Right Hand Trust, living and working among the local community in a village near Voi. When it was time to return to the UK, Jon knew that university and a privileged future were waiting for him, something which his new friends in Kenya might never experience. Jon knew he had to do something and started supporting one young person in Voi to go to school. Jon realised that other Right Hand Trust volunteers, including our trustees Zanna Carras (who lived in Uganda) and Jon’s brother Andy (who lived in Lesotho) were also supporting people in their host communities through education so they decided to form a charity – and Rafiki Thabo Foundation was born! Jon remains committed to helping others less fortunate than himself and he has been our Chair of Trustees ever since. Today Jon is so pleased that Rafiki Thabo supports more than 350 disadvantaged children with access to education every year.

Janet Hayes – After a long career in international development Janet joined Rafiki Thabo in 2014 as Director, and was the first paid staff member. She was responsible for every aspect of the day-to-day running of the charity, with the support of Jon and the other trustees. She put in place all the foundations for the charity to grow from strength to strength, and in 2017 Rafiki Thabo was able to hire dedicated fundraising resource. Janet oversees all our programmes in Kenya, Uganda, and Lesotho. From 2018, Janet led the successful merger with ACACIA UK, a charity which shared our passion for enabling access to education for children in East Africa but had a particular focus on children living with developmental disabilities – a focus which we have now incorporated into our programmes. Janet now works closely with Daina, Ayiesa and our Kenyan partner organisations to deliver our disability-focused support. ACACIA UK is now the trading subsidiary of Rafiki Thabo, running four (soon to be five!) charity shops whose profits are donated to us: a critical income stream for our programmes.

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