Handicap International improves the social integration of people with disabilities in Cuban society through rehabilitation and economical inclusion projects. The organization has worked in Cuba since 1998, when it launched its first prosthesis production project and employs eight staff members and one expatriate.
Cuba is the largest Caribbean nation with 11 million people. According to the latest estimates, 366,864 people in Cuba have disabilities. In 2015, presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced that diplomatic relations between the two countries had been restored, after a period of more than 50 years. People with disabilities are given free medical care, however, difficulties with transportation and the lack of modern and/or specialized equipment (such as audiometry tests) limit their access to this care. Cuba is particularly prone to hurricanes, which cause regular and serious economic damage to the country and undermine living conditions, especially for people with disabilities who generally have fewer resources than people without disabilities. Most recently, Hurricane Matthew, which hit the east of Cuba in October 2016, affected more than 300,000 people.
Community Based Rehabilitation
In Cuba, 38.29% of people with disabilities have an intellectual disability. This particularly high prevalence rate is due to several factors: a lack of information on the risk of children developing disabilities during pregnancy, a shortage of specialist medical equipment, poor guidance and preparation for families with disabled children, and the absence of a national integrated community-based rehabilitation model. The community-based rehabilitation project run by Handicap International plans to implement a pilot project to provide people with intellectual disabilities living in this province with specialist care, to improve the prevention, care management, and understanding of intellectual disabilities within communities. This project has already benefited 375 people under the age of 30 with severe intellectual disabilities, and 817 rehabilitation professionals.
This project, helping people with disabilities in the province of Granma access jobs, aims to promote the social and economic inclusion of people with disabilities who have benefited from functional rehabilitation. It is based on the implementation of individual inclusive employment projects, with the support of community advisers, and aims to build the capacities of existing professional training structures, create new occupational training links (tutors) and improve access to existing and sustainable local employment opportunities (micro-enterprises, cooperatives and public employees). Almost 2,400 people with disabilities have benefited from this project, including 800 beneficiaries who have received personalized employment plans, and 400 beneficiaries who were trained in 14 community workshops. Handicap International also works to support local disability rights organizations.
Disaster risk management
In the cities of Santiago, Guantanamo and Baracoa, Handicap International is improving protection for vulnerable populations in the event of natural disasters, in particular for women and people with disabilities. The organization is raising resident awareness of procedures to follow in the event of earthquakes, as well as training emergency response personnel. It is supporting the authorities and technical institutions in managing earthquake risks.