On evaluating how well received the Starchild Centre was being utilised, It became apparent that those most marginalised and vulnerable, especially those with autistic spectrum disorder, additional support needs and physical disabilities, were still unable to access any formal or informal training at our centre. As an inclusive organisation Starchild recognised that due to misguided and inherited belief systems individuals were still being shunned by their local communities and denied their rights because of their perceived inabilities. It is this lack of equality and inclusion that Starchild now hopes to address going forward.
In Uganda, the level of autism awareness is pathetically low. Efforts to increase public awareness and sensitivity towards autism from grassroots levels are urgently needed. The majority of Ugandan citizens regard disability as a “a curse” brought to the family through the mother of the child. The child is often left chained up in the dark, sometimes for days. They are often the victims of rape and abuse.
In partnership with The Dorna Centre, Kampala, Autism Voice, Entebbe, Grace Primary School and Starchild School and vocational centre we have established strong links, with the goal to provide all aspects of social inclusion in Uganda.
Starchild, is presently working alongside Williamwood High School Communication Support Group for autism and Mellow Parenting in the UK to address the development of a caring and supportive platform in Uganda. Starchild, believes that these partnerships would offer effective training and sensitisation desperately needed for families, communities, individuals and teachers. We have worked with some of the pupils to produce a DVD and book explaining what it is like to have autism. Parents and teacher have also contributed to this project. It has created an open dialogue between Starchild, families, teachers, and the group itself about ASD’s. Starchild hopes, going forward, to eventually develop a similar model with our partners at Grace School and our School for Creative Arts in Uganda.
Starchild hopes that with funding our school and vocational centre would become a holistic centre of excellence that offers support, training and guidance to those most marginalised. Ultimately, with the goal to promote livelihood opportunities, understanding and increase family income, thus breaking the cycle of poverty, stigma and abuse.