Providing A Voice for the Voiceless
Contributed by Amy Delk, Capital Area Speech Therapy Staff
Providing a voice for the voiceless. This is part of what Speech Pathologists do each day for their patients, both young and old. CLASP International has taken on this mission as well. CLASP International, or Connective Link Among Special Needs Programs, is a resource that is endeavoring to provide training to Graduate students in Zambia, Africa. This organization is certifying students at the University of Zambia to treat patients with special needs, such as feeding/swallowing disorders, cleft palate, and communication disorders such as autism.
Currently, within the communities of Zambia, such as the capital town of Lusaka, there are no permanent therapists who have the knowledge base and experience required to help those in desperate need. Many times, those in Zambia who need the most urgent help are hidden away. There is a stigma attached to those who are born with congenital, developmental, and acquired medical issues. They are often times seen as cursed, and kept from interacting with others, and kept from being a part of their communities. In severe cases, children born with special needs are neglected and abandoned.
There is hope. CLASP is making huge strides towards teaching the community that therapists can help make a difference, and in many cases save lives. When CLASP provides training to local licensed Zambian therapists familiar with the culture and people, the community sees that there are treatments available, and that there are explanations for speech disorders and other medical conditions. Instead of hiding in shame, those who need help are treated, and have improved quality of life. They thrive, grow, and become part of their community.
- Visit: claspinternational.org and find out more about this outreach program.
- Donate: If you are able to provide financial support to any of the therapists that make the trip to Zambia each year, please donate in their name, or the general fund. All donations are tax deductible. More information can be found under the Donate tab on the home page of the website.
- Volunteer: If you are a licensed Speech Language Pathologist, an Assistant-SLP, an Occupational Therapist, or Physical Therapist, you are urged to apply to the CLASP program on-line and volunteer your time and efforts either stateside or in Zambia.