Thanks to a three-year-long inclusive education project in Sierra Leone funded by the U.K. government, Handicap International is ensuring that children with disabilities have the chance to go school. In Sierra Leone, as in many other developing countries, children with disabilities are typically excluded due to long-held stigmas and a lack of disability-specific resources.
So far, Handicap International has indentified 1,000 children with disabilities who are out of school. Staff members and volunteers are working with their caretakers and local schools to enroll them and make sure the prospective students have the support they need to succeed.
We’re helping kids like seven-year-old Fanta who has cerebral palsy and has never been to school. As Fanta is not able to walk on her own, her family found it too difficult to carry her to the local school, which is located two miles from their home. When Handicap International found Fanta, they helped her to get a wheelchair so she could be wheeled to school.
“I want to go to school and play with the other children,” Fanta told Julia McGeown, Handicap International’s Inclusive Education technical advisor. Up until then, Fanta watched the other children going to school each morning with sadness, as she couldn’t join them.
“We are so pleased with the wheelchair," said Salir Nyama, Fanta’s grandfather. “At first, we were not sure whether she would be accepted in the school until Margaret (a Handicap International field officer) explained that all schools in Sierra Leone now have to accept all children, regardless of their disability.”