A Child Stands Tall in South Sudan


The violent conflict that has ripped through South Sudan since 2013, has had profound affects on children. Nine-year-old Monica now lives in a refugee camp at Yusuf Batil, in Maban County.[1] One morning in August 2014, she woke with a high fever, unable to get up out of bed.

"She was too weak,” Monica’s mother recalls. “Three days later, Monica could no longer walk. We tried to heal her with traditional therapeutic herbs, but it had no effect. We didn't know what to do."

In November 2014, she visited a hospital, where doctors diagnosed Monica with Guillain-Barré syndrome — her immune system was attacking her nervous system.[2]

Handicap International's mobile rehabilitation and psychosocial team[3] found Monica in Maban. While she continued her prescribed, medical course of treatment, the team offered her daily rehabilitation and physical training. The results have been extremely positive. After three weeks of rehabilitation, Monica stood up again. She can now move around unaided, and her big smile is back.

"The political crisis has meant that 1.5 million citizens of South Sudan have fled within the country since December 2013,” explains Lucia Morera Porres, Handicap International's Program Director for South Sudan. “Many of them are living in displaced persons camps. They do not always have access to drinking water, food, health care and other specific services, like rehabilitation care.

“In order to ensure the most vulnerable, in particular people with disabilities, benefit from the rehabilitation and psychomotricity services they need, Handicap International's itinerant teams travel to the areas of Nimule, Yambio, Lankien, Maban and Yida[4]. Since 2014, teams have provided care to 229 people with disabilities, offering 1,964 rehabilitation and psychomotricity sessions.[5] Helping the most vulnerable people is essential. Nobody should be forgotten."

[1] In the Upper Nile state

[2] A disease where the immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system

[3]Teams of rehabilitation and psychosocial experts who, at the request of other humanitarian organizations, are sent out to different areas of South Sudan in order to support, train and provide direct services to the beneficiaries of the other NGOs

[4] In collaboration with our partner organizations:  Save the Children, MSF Spain, MSF Netherlands, Samaritan’s Purse and the International Rescue Committee