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Vaida's story

In South Sudan, a generation of children with disabilities are locked out of an education and trapped in a cycle of poverty.

Frequent conflict has left behind a legacy of fear, displacement and despair, making it one of the world’s poorest and most fragile states. Children with disabilities were already the most vulnerable in society. Now, the coronavirus pandemic has deepened already existing levels of poverty, putting them at greater risk.

Many children with disabilities in South Sudan are not able to go to school or, later on, to work and earn a living. They may have no access to support services or hospitals for treatment. They may face stigma and exclusion.

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Vaida was 14-years old when she started to experience a numbness in her legs.

"I was okay until I turned 14 years old. It started with a headache one day. My limbs started to go numb. There was no proper medication available. I was paralysed. I couldn’t walk. I could only sit in one spot until someone moved me."

There were no services for children with disabilities in the village where Vaida and her family lived in South Sudan. There was no way of diagnosing what had caused her paralysis and no way of treating it.

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After years of war and conflict, South Sudan has little infrastructure to provide even emergency medical treatment for children with disabilities, let alone the long-term care required for a child like Vaida to live a healthy, happy life.