December 3rd 2015, Somalia/Somaliland
IAS is doing a lot of work for persons with disabilities and today on International Day of Persons with Disabilities we want to higlight this storey from the field:
For ten years 17 year old Hodan from Somalia/Somaliland was pushed around in a wheelbarrow. Besides the discomfort, she was always dependent on someone to take her around. A wheelchair and a specially made toilet from IAS gave Hordan the opportunity to a dignified life.
Hodan Jama Osman is 17 years old and was born at Jaamalaaye village, Berbera town in Sahil Region. She is the first child in a family of eight, with her being the only one with a disability. Hodan is physically challenged and has never developed speech. However, she can respond to sound.
For ten years Hodan has been pushed around in a wheelbarrow by her mother.
– When Hodan grew older it became to heavy to carry her on the back so the wheelbarrow was the only option, says Hodans mother, Anab Haibe Idle.
Improved education since 1992
IAS established its presence in Somalia/Somaliland in 1992, and has over the years worked to improve the educational environment and infrastructure.
-In various parts of the country, teacher and community training programs, special needs education and skills training also have been developed, thanks to IAS work,” says Milward.
The primary purpose of distributing the assistive devices is to encourage children with disabilities to be in school.
-One of the excuses the parents have for not sending their children to school is the mobility, says Milward.
Wheelbarrow exchanged to wheelchair
And some weeks ago the life of Hodan and her mother were completely changed. For the first time in 17 years, Hordan received a wheelchair and her own toilet seat. This meant a lot of new freedom for her and a heavy burden was unloaded from both Hodan and her mother.
-Now she can have a dignified life. Before, she was dependent on someone else to move her around. Now that she has a wheelchair, she can push herself to where she needs to be, including going to the toilet. It´s also a great relief for me as I now have time to do other things, says Anab.
Disabled children hidden in homes
Anab is a member of IAS family network in the area where parents of children with disabilities can learn about how to care for their children and support each other.
-The network is very important since children with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to marginalization and exclusion. It is not uncommon that these children are being hidden in the homes since the parents believe the disability is a curse says Milward Mwamvani, IAS Acting Country Director in Somalia/Somaliland.
In these meetings, the parents also builds an organized platform from which they can lobby government to enhance the support of children with disabilities. As a result of these meetings, more and more families in the area are not hiding their children anymore.
-These meetings has meant a lot to me and it was also here I got information about the distribution of disability mobility devices, says Anab.
The devices are sourced by IAS’s local partner in Somaliland (Taakulo Somaliland Community – TASCO), through the Australian Doctors for Africa.
Text: Rebecka Woods
Photo: Milward Mwamvani