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Bangladesh

Shumira takes one step at a time

In the corner of a dark hut, ten-year-old Shumira is busy with her make-up bag. A mirror directs thin rays of sunlight onto the little girl's face, revealing cheeks reddened by the mixture of face powders that she has put together. Shumira, who lives at the Teknaf refugee camp in Bangladeshis, is getting ready to go and play outside.

When she was younger, Shumira began to experience difficulties with posture and movement, which led to a gradual reduction in her activities. Her mother tells us that her daughter used to spend days in bed, unable to walk because of the stiffness in her limbs due to cerebral palsy. The days passed and blended together, when a Humanity & Inclusion mobile team knocked at her door.

A bamboo frame to help her to stand tall

Thanks to a makeshift standing frame made by Mohafuzur Rahman, a physical therapist with Humanity & Inclusion, today, Shumira can stand tall. "I learned how to do it on the internet," says Mohafuzur, adding that he asked the family to provide the materials needed for the device. "It wasn't all that hard. I wanted to involve Shumira's family in her recovery process."

Now Shumira fastens herself into her bamboo device twice a day: once in the morning and once in the evening. This allows her to play with her make-up collection—one of her favorite activities. This exercise seems to be paying off since she's beginning to be able to stand up without assistance. "It makes me happy to see her standing up straight and moving," her mother says. "She's even begun to go outside."

Crutches to go farther

Shumira made such good (and rapid!) progress that Mohafuzur decided to give her crutches. But learning to walk with crutches is not always so easy. "At first, I thought I was going to fall. I was afraid," says Shumira. After a few tries, Shumira became more confident and managed to string some steps together. "Now, I'm not afraid to use them, and I felt so good the first time I went outside!," she exclaims.

Mohafuzur visits Shumira regularly to give her physical therapy exercises. Each time, they practice walking with the crutches together. "I know that Mohafuzur is there to help me." Shumira's progress has been impressive since she met the Humanity & Inclusion mobile team two weeks ago. But the young girl knows that she must progress one step at a time.

Living in the Teknaf camp

At Teknaf, 274,000 refugees are crammed into makeshift shelters. Many families have been living there for a few years, and many children have been born there. Humanity & Inclusion deployed two mobile teams in 2017 and also runs other inclusive activities, such as the Growing Together project, supported by the IKEA Foundation.