I don’t have a Disability, I am differently abled.
Maria Omare is the founder and Executive Director of The Action Foundation, an organization that is working to break barriers that prevent the inclusion of children and young people with disability in disadvantaged communities. They do this through provision of health services at our therapy and learning centre in Kibera and advocating for the rights of persons with disability.
The Action Foundation is a youth-led grass roots organization in Kenya that is transforming the lives of children and youth with disabilities. They work in low income communities to provide accessible health services, promote social inclusion and empower caregivers with knowledge and skills to help them nurture young persons with special needs.
For an inclusive society to be achieved, all children should be valued in spite of their differences. @MariaOmare Click To Tweet
Spurred by the support of like-minded social innovators, The Action Foundation was established with the goal of transforming the lives of children with disabilities and empowering their caregivers through various projects. Their initial activities included reaching out to children with disabilities in schools in Nairobi, including those in Kibera and Mathare slums, through sports, art and giving health talks. Through disability awareness events, we were able to recruit more volunteers to be part of our work.
While working in slum areas, they encountered several cases of neglect and abuse which brought them to the realization that this is where help is needed the most. In March 2012, with modest savings plus contributions from the team and well wishers, the Action Foundation set up a rehabilitation centre for special needs children at the heart of Kibera, the largest slum in Africa. Today, The Action Foundation continues to break barriers for young persons with disabilities through promoting access to quality health care and grass roots advocacy efforts.
Maria Omare, 2013 Akili Dada Fellow is also a proud recipient of the Social Entrepreneurs Award as part of the Social Entrepreneurs Transforming Africa (SET Africa) Fellows Program. She is among 25 accomplished young social entrepreneurs from 15 African Nations who were recently honoured in Kampala, Uganda as Fellows of SET Africa.
Maria founded The Action Foundation in 2010 with the aim of improving the health of children with disability and supporting them to achieve their maximum potential. Working with local community members, health professionals and using a volunteer based approach, The Action Foundation operates a centre in Kibera.
The Action Foundation primarily serves children with Cerebral Palsy, Down’s Syndrome and Autism as well those with other forms of physical and mental disability. Parents of children attending the centre make handicrafts from water hyacinth to earn a living and also learn techniques to provide their children the care they need.
While volunteering in homes and institutions of children with disability, Maria Omare empathised with the challenges faced by special needs children living in disadvantaged communities and her passion to improve their lives grew.
Maria Omare has numerous accolades, some of which include;
2013 Fellow at Akili Dada,
2013 Spark International Change maker,
2013 Grantee ofThe Pollination Project (TPP). 2014 Social Entrepreneurs Transforming Africa (SET Africa) Award Winner.
2014 Alumni mentee in the Cherie Blair Foundation Mentoring Women in Business Program
2015 Global Good Fund(GGF) Finalist.
2015 Fellow of The Ford Motor Company International Fellowship of 92nd Street Y
2015 Global Change Leader at Coady International Institute
Through the PAA program The Action Foundation empowers families of children with disability through capacity building through training in income generating activities, giving caregivers skills that are helpful in meeting the specific needs of their children and helping to grow their existing businesses.“The worst thing about a disability is that people see it before they see you.” ― Easter Seals Click To Tweet