Lots of companies do charity and of course, every penny raised for any worthy cause is worthwhile. But recently, we became aware of Kay Disang’s story through a colleague. He has family in Palapye, Botswana, where Kay lives, and hoped that individually each of us may be moved enough by her story to donate a few pounds.
Finding a new home
Kay needs to build a new house for herself and her sons, Karabo (19) and Oabona (15). Karabo has severe autism, which for a single mother like Kay in the UK, who needs to work full time, would be difficult enough. A former Southerly employee and friend of many of us here has a child with autism, so over the years we’ve been aware of the struggles she’s had to get the support she and her family needs.
In Botswana, it’s a nightmare for parents of children with this condition. There is little to no understanding of his condition. Karabo gets angry, he throws stones and bites his hands. The teachers at his local school cannot handle his behaviour and so send him home, but Karabo wanders (not uncommon in people with autism) and often Kay has no idea where he is. She’s scared that people will take advantage of him or he will get into drugs because he’s so impressionable. Some days she walks for miles trying to find him.
On top of her worry about her son, Kay has the reaction of the local community to deal with. Several believe it’s her fault her son is the way he is, that it’s a curse from God. Kay’s dream is to move back to the beautiful rural village of Majwaneng, 60km from her shack in Palapye. In Majwaneng she will have the support of a close-knit community, a tranquil setting to care for her autistic son and crucially, a plot of land. The plot was once her family home – the remnants of a mud hut still remain. With the help of social workers she now has permission to build a house and a small shop so she can be self sufficient, but not the resources to so.
Raising money and awareness
That’s why we’ve decided to do better than individually donate a few quid to Kay’s cause. We want to use our communication skills and contacts in order to help to raise the £4,000 she needs to get her house built and create the safe haven she wants for both of her sons, and it seemed serendipitous to launch our campaign during World Autism Awareness Week.
I’m lucky. Every day I know where my daughter is and that she is being well looked after by the teachers at her school. The toughest life lesson she’s had so far is that sometimes, there will be kids who don’t want to play with you. Your gut instinct always as a parent is to protect. I wanted to find those girls who didn’t want to be friends and tell them to be nice to my baby… and then perhaps invite them all round for play dates. First world problems, right? Kay doesn’t have it so easy and she needs to be somewhere where the people are going to be nice to her baby.
Please help us to raise the money for Kay and her family. If you would like to know more about her story and to find out how you can make a donation, big or small, visit http://www.gofundme.com/kayshouse.