Going the Extra Miles

Going the Extra Miles

How do you change the stigma surrounding learning disabilities? Two UEA nursing students travelled across the world to find out.

Alana Rush and Sadie Clark are two third year UEA Learning Disabilities Nursing students passionate about changing the way the world thinks about learning disabilities.

To this end, they embarked on the challenge of a lifetime. Having observed the sense of social exclusion people with learning disabilities experience in the UK, the two friends set off to Sri Lanka, a country where culture and religion dictates that a child born with any disabilities are due to wrongdoings in the babies’ or parents’ previous lives.

Here they learnt how a charity set up in 1988 with limited funds went on to help over 4,000 people with a disability. With the support of volunteers and an established training programme, MENCAFEP works with the local community and disabled children in a positive, nurturing and loving way. No longer excluded, disabled children are now included in society with disabled and non-disabled children sharing lessons together in school.

Alana and Sadie worked hard to raise funds for the trip and got an extra boost when they won an alumni award. They were able to fund activities for the children and they also organised a new sensory room for them.

“We brought school shoes and socks for the children, handbags for the mothers, sari’s for the teachers and a bag of rice for each family. It was lovely to be able to deliver these the following day, the faces of the children is a picture we will never forget.”

As Sadie reflected on the trip, ‘I was just so inspired. This charity has managed to succeed in a country where there are no resources, so why can’t we do it here?’

With a greater understanding of how MENCAFEP works, Alana and Sadie are more determined than ever to take this knowledge and set up their own social enterprise once they graduate. Empowering the most vulnerable, giving them a voice and helping them live as full a life as possible.

When you study Nursing at UEA you’ll have the opportunity to go anywhere in the world as part of your elective.

How far will you go to find the answers?