To honour the run up to International Day of the African Child on Friday, we are treating our followers to a week of contributions, updates and blogs from our five partner organisations in Africa. The themes of this year’s Day of the African Child are protection, empowerment and equal opportunities for all children in Africa; things that AbleChildAfrica dedicate our work to, day in day out.
Today, we’re hearing an amazing success story of a child who our partner organisation – Uganda Society for Disabled Children – has worked with.
Yvonne, aged 8, was born with a physical impairment, leaving her with limited use of her hands and legs. For many children in Uganda, this results in a life of isolation, never receiving the opportunity to attend school and often subjected to neglect.
The inclusive education project that AbleChildAfrica supports in Lira works to enrol disabled children who would otherwise be excluded from learning alongside their peers. As a result of one of the Parent Support Groups set up through the project, Yvonne’s mother’s attitude changed. Realising that her daughter could and should be attending school, she sought out a saving scheme which has enabled her to afford her daughter’s school fees. The other parents supported Yvonne’s mother through the process to enrol her daughter into primary school for the very first time.
The next barrier Yvonne faced to her education was her journey to school every day. Public transport was not an option for Yvonne due to the cost, distance and uneven roads on the way to school that Yvonne found it hard to walk on. This meant that her mother had no option other than carrying her daughter on her back, to and from school, every single day.
The Child to Child project not only teaches children enrolled in school to identify and engage with out-of-school disabled children in their communities, but empowers the children to work together with teachers and communities to identify barriers to their exclusion. The children at Yvonne’s school saw her mother struggling and decided they needed to help. Her friends at primary school would not only carry her school books and lunch, but they’d carry Yvonne, helping to ensure she did not miss a day of her education and relieving her mother of the daily journey with Yvonne on her back.
Thanks to the support from AbleChildAfrica and USDC, Yvonne now has her own wheelchair. She’s pushed to school each day by her peers, where she learns in an inclusive and supportive environment with her friends. Yvonne is now a bright and sociable child who can read and write by herself and who has aspirations of becoming a nurse when she grows up.
The Child to Child approach has benefited disabled children hugely in academic terms. Our work supporting USDC sees children’s self-confidence thrive; they grow to believe in themselves and see their future goals as achievable outcomes, proving that disability is not inability. This story shows how AbleChildAfrica’s work with USDC and our other partners is empowering not just teachers, parents and communities, but also children – disabled and non-disabled – whose lives are transformed through the programmes we support. Using the Child to Child approach, over 450 disabled children have been enrolled into project schools to date. We are grateful for the technical expertise provided by the Child to Child Trust in delivering this project.
If you’d like to support projects that are transforming the lives of disabled children like Yvonne, you can donate towards our work here.