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.
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.
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.
Thankfully there was hope. Our partner in South Sudan provided Vaida with the healthcare she urgently needed.
We started by teaching her exercises so she could start to slowly recover movement in her limbs. Gifts like yours also provided life-changing equipment, so Vaida can now walk on crutches and has a tricycle she rides around her village and uses to travel to school. Vaida thought she would never walk again, but thanks to supporters like you, she can now take a few steps unaided.
Vaida has experienced first-hand what it means to be disabled and too poor to access proper healthcare and support services. She risked losing her health and education. But thanks to supporters like you, she can stay in school and has the support she needs to move freely around her village, spend time with her friends and help her mother with household chores.
Vaida lost so much, but can now look forward to a future full of hope. Help give more children like Vaida the chance to live a full life.
Working hand in hand with our local partners and key community members, we’ll enable children with disabilities in South Sudan to access the education and support they need to build a healthy future.
Your support will help to adapt six schools so that pupils with disabilities can access mainstream education. Teachers will be trained so they understand the needs of children with disabilities and how to include them in their classes. The children will be supported by the provision of aids, such as wheelchairs, ramps, hearing aids and canes, as well as healthcare, so they can live more independently and actively participate in lessons, sports and other activities with their classmates.