Special Hope Network is a faith-based nonprofit located in Lusaka, Zambia (since May 2010), working with children who have intellectual disabilities. The World Health Organization estimates that 2 out of every 10 children in the developing world are physically and/or intellectually disabled. Most of these children are not registered at birth, and have no official or legal status.
Sadly, because of specific circumstances in Southern Africa, these children are left particularly vulnerable. Most communities consider children who have a disability a curse—a punishment for his or her parent’s wrongdoing. Children are often hidden away and denied basic care. As a result, 80% of these children will die before they are 5 years old.
Even if a child were accepted in their community, they would find a staggering lack of resources. There are very few medical professionals educated in the field of disability, and even fewer willing to give a child with a disability quality care. As for education, most government schools do not have special education programs. The only special education programs offered exist in community-based schools, which are privately funded with very limited capacity.