'Little Assisi' Day Centre & Special School, Ng'ombe, Lusaka, Zambia.

The Little Assisi School in Lusaka is a school for children with learning disabilities run by the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood. School manager, Sr. Kay O'Neill, applied for funding to support the employment of 4 pre-school teachers.

In their application the Little Assisi School told us that without these dedicated members of staff they could not operate as a school. The school does not get any government support so is dependent completely on donations from within Zambia and abroad. 

The children learn to write, basic arithmetic, art and music. "What most children excel in is learning nursery rhymes, songs and dances, they really come to life when there is a party".

Time at school  gives mothers and grandmothers some time, for chores and with their other children. The work and commitment of the staff also raises local awareness of disability, the ability of the children and encourages community participation and inclusion. 

Sr. Kay O'Neill told us about the history of the Little Assisi Special School:

“It is by the care we show to the most weak and vulnerable in our society that civilization can be judged.”

This small centre started in 2005 with just five children in a room at a Community School in Ng’ombe. We managed to purchase our present premises towards the end of 2006 with the help of the FMDM Congregation and some donors.

We opened the School and Day Centre there in January 2007.

We now have 66 children registered at the Centre and we have an attendance of around 35 children daily. They attend from 8 am to 12.30 pm, receive a snack mid-morning and a meal at midday.
We provide dried milk, ground nuts, soya and eggs to children who are malnourished. 

  • Afternoon classes are held for older children and there is also a skills training group.
    At ‘Little Assisi’ we believe that these children are important and have a place in society. They can teach us a lot provided we are open to learn from them.
  • We have a regular staff of five pre-school teachers, two teaching/care assistants, housekeeper and manager/administrator.
  • Teaching and training is done in small groups and we try to give each child some one-to-one teaching daily.

The following are some of the conditions we encounter:

  • Microcephaly
  • Hydrocephaly
  • Down’s Syndrome
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Hyperactivity
  • Autism
  • Hearing and Speech disorders


AIMS OF THE CENTRE TO PROVIDE TEACHING:

  • in small groups and one-to-one for children with learning disabilities.
  • to provide a happy, secure and stable environment for them, and to help them reach their potential.

TO HELP FAMILIES:

  • access information and medication for a child with Epilepsy, and to access physiotherapy for children who need it, especially those with cerebral palsy.

TO ACT…

  • as a base for outreach work in the community, visiting homes and working to overcome the stigma of learning disability and epilepsy.

TO HELP parents and guardians…

  • To understand their child’s disability through meetings and workshops.

TO NETWORK

  • with other facilities for children with disabilities, referring children to them when necessary.

NG’OMBE, LUSAKA.
The population of Ng’ombe is about 50,000, with approximately 70% of the people living below the poverty line. The Government are not yet able to provide low rent housing for people in the compounds and so each family has to build their own house as best they can or rent from another. Some of these houses comprise just one or two rooms and most have no electricity or running water.
Roads are bad and can become impassable in the rainy season.