The idea to build a Home in Naromoru came out in the years 70s. In this Parish there were Fr. Mario Dal Frari and Fr. Romano Filippi, both from the Diocese of Pordenone, Italy. Since 1972 there were also three sisters: Sr Maristella Contin, sr Dositea Matteazzi and Sr Rita Bergamin who collaborated in the pastoral activities among the people. They used to visit the families. During their visits to the families they realized how many children were suffering from disability, mostly caused by Polio in that time. Children with physical disability, left without any treatment, many children, and often bright children just staying home without any effort being done to rehabilitate and make them feel part of the larger Kenya society. The possibility of being cured was very little, Centres which could accommodate them were very few and far away. Fr. Romano and the Sisters started to be in touch with the Kieni Hospital, with Nkubo Consolata Hospital. They also started to take the Disabled children to Tooro for treatment at the beginning of each term, and then to collect them at the end of the term. But the number of children in need of treatment was increasing, so the idea to build a Home came out.
Fr. Romano and the Sisters met the community and sensitized the people regarding the Disabled Children. Every Christian was given the responsibility to find in the homes the Polio victims and children with bone deformations as a result of accidents or birth problems. They requested the people to set a Committee for the Home, and all of them chose the name “Naromoru Disabled Children’s Home’.
The Father and the Sisters spoke with the Bishop of Nyeri Diocese, Caesar Gatimu, they contacted the Government’s Authority in Kenya, they met with various organizations which assist the Disabled Children in Kenya, they spoke with friends and authority in Italy, and everywhere they found great appreciation for the idea of building a Home. Meanwhile sr Maristella was enlisting the children in need of treatment and surgery, and about 40 children were enrolled. Thanks to the sisters dedication, the enthusiasm of Fr. Mario del Frari and the intervention of the Diocese Pordenone-Concordia (Italy), the contributions started coming.
A very important decision was made not to build any structure for a school, but to use the facilities offered by the nearby Irigithathi Primary School. The Bishop Caesar Maria Gatimu was not of the idea in the beginning, but he agreed. They wanted the children of the Home schooling with the other children, to be helped by them in their needs for movements, to feel their presence as a normal way of being members of the community.
And so they started planning the Home. The architect Sergio Polo from Nairobi draw the project, which was registered as a Harambee project. The site, already identified, was filled with stones, sand and ballast.
When a little fund was raised, they started building the Home. On 4th October 1978, feast of St. Francis of Assisi, under heavy rain (which was considered as a blessing for the project) they fixed the pegs for the administration block. The people of the community helped in digging the foundations, everybody responded well not only the Catholics, but all Christian denominations and others….The construction went on, but they could not speed up because of lack of funds. A Harambee was organized with the Provincial Commissioner as Guest of Honour. Some money was collected, but, the most important, the local people, school children, women groups, churches donated everything they could. This was wonderful, the people of Naro Moru were concerned about the Home.
His Excellency, the Honorable Mwai Kibaki then Vice President, organized a golf tournament whose proceeds were donated to the Home.
The building continued, and on 18th January 1982 the Home was able to welcome 16 children. In the all year 1982, 29 children were admitted. All of them with various physical impairment started undergoing the rehabilitation treatment . For surgery they used to be taken to Nkubu Hospital.
The year 1984 was a turning point in the History of the Home. A medical Doctor from Genova Italy, the Professor Silvano Mastragostino, started the surgery program for the children of Naromoru. Since years he had a dream: to dedicate his surgeon experience and professionalism to the children who could not have the opportunity of treatment. His dream became true first in Olkalou and then for the children of Naromoru. The professor died in 1998, too early… but the fulfillment of his dream has continued over the years till today, through Dr Silvio Boero and his team. They come to Naromoru every January, as volunteers, during their Holidays, and operate on the children. Dr Gianmaria Valle and his team come every October for the Out patient Clinic.
The Doctors belong to the Association G.O.A. (Genova Orthopaedics Africa) which covers the travelling expenses for the doctors and supports with surgical material and others.
Professor Mastragostino used to say: The surgical orthopaedic treatment consists of three essential moments: surgery, rehabilitation and orthopaedic appliances. If one of them is missing, the whole process is useless. In order to get a real improving of the physical conditions we must offer a “stable” and systematic treatment, which takes into consideration the real situation of the family and social environment, long distances for example…
This is the reason why Naromoru Disabled Children’s Home exists:
To provide quality orthopaedic services, physiotherapy and occupational services, orthopaedic appliances to the children with disabilities.
All this in order to give the children and people with disability, dignity and a chance for a better future, to improve their living conditions and make them more self sufficient and integrated in the society.
This is the meaning of the Home.
From 1982 till today 1675 children were admitted to the Home. Many other children come as Outpatients: in 2011 the Outpatients were 1580. Number of assessments: 609.
In 2003 a Department of Electrotherapy started for adult patients: last year 506 patients could benefit from the services of the Home. Every year a few emergency cases of adult patients have the possibility of surgery by our Doctors.
Grateful to God and to all the people who support the Home, we will continue to serve children and people with disability with dedication and professionalism.
Fr. Romano Filippi
Sr. Silvia Melato
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