Elizabeth Johnson Sellers

  • Syria | Video: Nujeen and her family fled Aleppo

    Nujeen Mustafa, who has used a wheelchair since childhood, fled Aleppo with her family after constant bombing. She's now a refugee living in Germany.

    March 15, 2021 marks 10 years of conflict in Syria. Major cities and civilian infrastructure have been destroyed. Explosive weapons contaminate land and put civilians at constant risk of losing life or limb. 11 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian aid.

    This is Nujeen's story.

    Humanity & Inclusion and the Syria crisis

    Since the organization began its response to the Syria crisis in 2012, Humanity & Inclusion has helped 1.8 million Syrians in six countries through emergency rehabilitation, psychological support, and supplying prosthetics and other assistive devices. As of December 2020, Humanity & Inclusion provided 14,000 prosthetics or orthotics to Syrians and conducted rehabilitation sessions with 180,000 people. Learn more about our work and the Syria crisis.Become a monthly donor

    Header image: Destroyed buildings and rubble.
    Video Copyright: LPG Visuel/HI

  • Kenya | After severe burn, Faiso regains the use of her right hand

    Faiso’s right hand was burned severely by hot water in 2017, causing her to lose the ability to complete basic tasks like writing, bathing and getting dressed. Two years later, Faiso’s mother reached out to Humanity & Inclusion for support.

    In 2019, Humanity & Inclusion hosted a routine awareness event, informing people living in the Ifo Refugee Camp in Kenya of the rehabilitation services its team provides. After the session, Faiso’s mother decided to take her daughter to Humanity & Inclusion’s rehabilitation center.

    The team assessed Faiso’s hand and determined she would need surgery to regain full range of motion. Before surgery, Humanity & Inclusion provided psychosocial services to Faiso and her family to create a supportive structure for her recovery. 

    After the procedure, Humanity & Inclusion conducted home visits to provide additional counseling and rehabilitation, helping Faiso gain the ability to independently feed, dress and bathe herself. After 22 at-home rehabilitation sessions, Humanity & Inclusion’s team determined Faiso had regained the use of her right hand.

    Faiso's care was supported by a multi-year project funded by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, with the goal of strengthening the environment for refugee and host communities in Kenya through the provision of community-based services including protection, rehabilitation, and psychosocial support.

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    Faiso, now 10, is in grade one at the Sunlight Primary School. During Humanity & Inclusion’s most recent home visit in January 2021, Faiso was joyful and bonding with her siblings. 

    “I am very grateful for the support I was accorded by the Humanity and Inclusion team from Ifo camp.,” she says. “I was at first afraid of the surgery but after the counseling session by the Humanity & Inclusion team, I accepted to undergo the procedure. My mother was also very supportive. She would always encourage me to continue with the counseling sessions for recovery. Now I can move my right hand without any challenge or discomfort and eat comfortably, I can even draw using my hand and also help my mother in doing light house chores like sweeping the floor.”

  • Kenya | After poisonous prick from a thorn, Saisa recovers from amputation

    Saisa developed such serious health issues after being pricked by a poisonous thorn that her leg had to be amputated. Humanity & Inclusion is providing rehabilitation and psychosocial support for Saisa.

    Saisa, 10, was attending a birthday party in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya last year when she was pricked on the left foot by a poisonous thorn. After a week of traditional treatment, Saisa’s condition continue to worsen. Her leg was turning black and her skin was peeling. Her mother took her to the International Rescue Committee hospital, where doctors determined Saisa was experienced gangrene. She was admitted to the hospital and, two days later, her leg was amputated.

    After surgery, Humanity & Inclusion’s pediatric rehabilitation workers worked with Saisa to shape her stump, help her manage phantom pain and teach her exercises to expand her range of motion. She also received psychosocial support to process the trauma and grief of losing her leg.

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    Saisa continues to receive care at Humanity & Inclusion’s rehabilitation center in the refugee camp, focusing on physical exercises to strengthen her muscles and train her balance, as well as psychosocial support to improve her self-esteem.

    Soon, Saisa will be equipped with a prosthetic leg. In the meantime, Saisa has learned to walk with crutches. Saisa’s parents and her six siblings are also learning about the stages of grief so they can support Saisa on her journey to recovery.

    “Saisa can finally go out and play with her friends without my supervision,” says Rihad, Saisa’s mother. “In the hospital, I was stressed and I thought my daughter had become useless. I never knew that someone would help me. When I went home, the Humanity & Inclusion people came to my house and now my daughter is a person again.”

    When schools reopened this year, Humanity & Inclusion made sure Saisa was transferred to an inclusive school within her neighborhood.  Her confidence is growing each day, and she has big dreams for her future.

    “I want to be a businesswoman when I grow up and sell many things,” Saisa says. “I am very happy that I can go to school now.”

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    Image: A young girl named Saisa uses crutches as she walks with her friends at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. Copyright: HI

  • Nepal | Meet Reiza Dejito: Mother and Humanitarian Worker

    To mark International Women's Day on March 8, we talked to Reiza Dejito, a strong woman who is deeply committed to both her family and her role at Humanity & Inclusion. Currently serving as the Program Director for Nepal, India and Sri Lanka, Reiza has worked in numerous countries affected by humanitarian crises for two decades.

    Why did you decide to join Humanity & Inclusion?

    I graduated in science and physical therapy, and I earned diplomas in teaching and then management. I also completed several volunteer missions in the Philippines (my home country) and Ethiopia. And then, three months after leaving Ethiopia, I joined Humanity & Inclusion as a victim assistance project manager in Bor, South Sudan. Since then, I have worked in Kenya, Bangladesh, the Philippines and now Nepal.

    Is there one experience that really stands out?

    Working with Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. They’ve suffered so much. One woman told me how she watched helpless as her husband was murdered and her house was burned down. A 9-year-old child, who was injured in the arm by a bullet after being caught in the crossfire, told me he’d forgiven the attacker for hitting the wrong target. Men, women and children walked for days and days to cross the border with little food and water. Awful. 

    As a director in the Philippines, I joined the emergency team to help the victims of Super Typhoon Goni. I was extremely impressed by the resilience and generosity of Filipinos. And the commitment of my team and partner organizations to provide assistance to those who needed it most.

    What’s the hardest part of your job?

    As Program Director, I’m responsible for the security and protection of my teams and ensuring they are safe and sound, and in good health, especially during emergencies, crises and conflicts. In 2016, I had to manage the evacuation of Humanity & Inclusion’s teams in South Sudan following a series of deadly clashes between armed groups. It was the most trying experience of my career.


    What's really important when it comes to working with your team?

    Trust. Transparency. Empathy. And being able to laugh together.

    Humanitarian and mother: how do you strike the right balance?

    For many women, achieving this balance is a huge challenge and often prevents them from taking on more responsible positions. I’m extremely fortunate to have a supportive family and a husband who takes care of our child when I’m working. Thanks to their support, I can do the job I do. My family is my biggest incentive. They really inspire me to do better every day.

    Is gender equity a challenge in the humanitarian sector?

    I’ve been personally fortunate to work with male colleagues and team leaders who are advocates for women's leadership. But while many women work in the humanitarian sector, there are still too few in senior positions. Many organizations have made a lot of progress, but not enough. There is a great deal of work to do before we achieve greater equity. It’s not an easy task, because these inequalities run deep. They’ve been entrenched in cultural, social, financial and political life for generations. It’s not simply a question of empowering women and advancing their rights, but of changing corporate cultures. Men also have a role to play here. I want to see women access positions of responsibility just like men. I think we'll get there...slowly but surely.

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    Header image: A Filipino woman named Reiza (wearing the blue visor) and another woman carry a tub of supplies after Typhoon Goni in the Philippines. Copyright: HI
    Inline image: Reiza squats down to talk with a girl who has an artificial leg at a refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, in 2015. Copyright: Xavier Bourgois/HI



  • Cambodia | New U.S.-funded project will clear mines from contaminated land

    Three decades after the end of conflict, landmines and other explosive weapons continue to contaminate parts of Cambodia–making it unsafe for people to live and farm and limiting access to resources in some regions. These weapons remain an obstacle in more than 6,400 of Cambodia’s 14,300 villages.

    To protect civilians, Humanity & Inclusion has teamed up with the local organization Cambodia Self-Help Demining (CSHD) to launch a new project to remove explosive weapons, teach locals how to stay safe and avoid explosive remnants of war, and create long-term mine action plans in Cambodia’s Siem Reap and Kampong Thom provinces.

    The 12-month, $500,000 project is funded by the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

    Humanity & Inclusion’s team will support CSHD in surveying land, removing landmines and explosive ordnance, and raising awareness among residents. The ultimate goal is to see CSHD build its own capacity to manage an autonomous mine clearance operation in Cambodia by 2025.

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    “We are excited to take on such an important project working alongside local villages to ensure people can live and work safely, without fear of losing their lives or limbs to explosive weapons,” says Emmanuel Sauvage, director of the Armed Violence Reduction unit at Humanity & Inclusion. “We are grateful to the U.S. government for recognizing the danger these leftover weapons pose for civilians in their everyday lives and for the support to develop sustainable local mine action capacities.”

    In recent decades, organizations like Humanity & Inclusion have assisted the Cambodian government in its efforts to become mine free. With support from the U.S. government and other donors, organizations have removed more than 1 million landmines and 3 million other explosive remnants of war from approximately 700 square miles of land. But civilians are still in danger in another 772 square miles of land that is contaminated by such weapons.

    Humanity & Inclusion counts more than 25 years of experience in mine action and first started clearing weapons in Cambodia in 1994. CSHD is a local organization that works to remove weapons in rural villages. The organization was founded in 2007, by a former Khmer child soldier.

    This new project will support at least 35 staff in mine action activities, directly benefitting at least 500 people and indirectly helping more than 12,000 people across the two provinces have safer access to their land and resources.Become a monthly donor

    Image: A man wearing protective gear kneels on the ground in a Cambodian village in 2012. He's placing a sign that warns of explosive remnants of war. Copyright: Eric Martin/Figaro Magazine/HI

  • Syria | After bombing of home, 'I feel blessed to walk again'

    Malik was 13 when his home in Syria was bombed. From his leg amputation to rehabilitation, his road to recovery in Jordan with Humanity & Inclusion has been long. 

    Malik is one of many victims of bombing during the conflict in Syria. This is his story, in his words: 

    I’m 20. I came to Jordan from Syria seven years ago. I was injured in an air attack when I was 13. 

    We were at home, celebrating a family marriage. When the house was bombed, I was with my father. He and my uncle were also injured, but not seriously. Mine was worse because I was in the room where the bomb hit. There was thick smoke. I couldn't see a thing. My mother opened the doors and windows so we could breathe. I really thought I was going to die. 

    I passed out when I got to hospital. When I woke up the next morning, we were in an ambulance at the border on the way to another hospital in Jordan. 

    They amputated my leg straightaway, but I had no idea I’d lost it for the first fortnight. I was in shock and alone in hospital. It was really hard without my family. It was a few months before my mother could join me. 

    I was depressed and, for the first three years, I was in a bad state psychologically. I had injuries all over my body, which needed care, and I got the treatment I needed to move different parts of my body.

    I was fitted with my first prosthesis in 2014. When I saw I could walk again, I felt blessed! I was going to be able to move, work and study again! I spent a year in rehabilitation with Humanity & Inclusion, learning to walk. 

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    I went back to school in 2015 but stopped shortly afterwards because I found it hard to accept my disability. I mostly stayed home. I was really depressed and shy. It took me years to get over it. Around 2017, I began to make new friends. I hated it when people saw me as someone with a disability. 

    I've overcome my anxiety and nervousness now. I can move around, study and work. 

    I’m now a voluntary worker at Humanity & Inclusion, which also helps improve my English because I left school early. I help identify people with disabilities, who may need rehabilitation services or specific support, and their medical needs, and give them information on other accessible local services.  

    I’ve got quite a busy afterwork routine. I see friends and at night I produce content for my YouTube channel. I make funny clips out of existing videos. I also play online with friends.

    My dream is to study art and drama.

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    Image: A young man named Malik sits in a chair at his home in Jordan. He is a Syrian refugee.

  • Cambodia | Requiring amputations as an infant, Kimhouy is determined to stand tall

    Kimhouy, 8, was born with limb differences. For the past two years, she has received care from Humanity & Inclusion and has learned to walk with artificial legs. 

    Kimhouy was born with dysmelia, a congenital abnormality that causes missing, shortened or other limb differences. As an infant, doctors amputated both of her legs, her left arm and some of her fingers.

    Until the age of 6, unless someone carried her, Kimhouy would just sit on the floor. She didn’t know what it was like to walk. And it was almost impossible for her to take part in family activities. Born with a serious disability and into an extremely poor family, Kimhouy has experienced a lot of hardship, but she maintains a positive outlook on life. 

    Barriers to routine care

    Kimhouy's parents are both day laborers in Cambodia. Her mother works on farms and her father on construction sites. They hire out their labor when they can and barely earn enough to support Kimhouy and her three siblings. The family experiences regular spells of unemployment. Because of their irregular income, Kimhouy does not get continuous care. Even though the family lives only an hour from Humanity & Inclusion’s rehabilitation center in Kampong Cham, where she receives follow-up care, her parents struggle to arrange for her to get routine treatment. Humanity & Inclusion’s team has visited her at home to provide follow-up care, but encourages regularly visits to the rehabilitation center because it is vital for Kimhouy to have her prosthetics repaired or be fitted for new ones as she outgrows them.

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    “We’ve been providing Kimhouy with follow-up care since September 2019,” says Vimean Srun, head of the physical therapy unit at the Kampong Cham center managed by Humanity & Inclusion. “Unfortunately, she is not always able to come to her appointments because of her family’s situation. Last November, the last time she visited the rehabilitation center, her prostheses were too small because she’d grown so much. At that age, you need to change them regularly."

    Still, Kimhouy’s mother tries her best to ensure her daughter keeps making progress.

    “I would like to thank Humanity & Inclusion for covering the cost of our accommodation, transport and food when Kimhouy needs to visit the center for rehabilitation or new prostheses,” her mother says. “We couldn’t afford to help our daughter otherwise. I hope Humanity & Inclusion will continue to support people with disabilities for a long time to come.”


    Determined to stand tall

    Kimhouy loves visiting the rehabilitation center, which her mother heard about from a friend who lives with a disability. The first day she met Humanity & Inclusion physical therapists and orthopedic technicians, her life changed. She wants to keep improving and become more self-reliant.

    "My daughter has been so happy since she was fitted with her prostheses,” her mother adds. “She can walk, get out of the house, ride her bike and play with friends. She stays clean because she can stand instead of always having to sit on the floor. I’m extremely grateful to Humanity & Inclusion and the donors who have made this possible.”

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    At the rehabilitation center in Kampong Cham, Kimhouy channels her enthusiasm into her goal of walking better. 

    “Kimhouy is a bright girl and extremely determined,” explains Srun, the physical therapist. “She’s always in a good mood and willing to do the exercises we suggest. She really enjoys her physical therapy sessions and knows the whole team. She has a smile for everyone. We also give her advice on her day-to-day life. We are proud of her and glad her prostheses mean she can go to school now.”

    After she was fitted with her artificial limbs in 2019, Kimhouy started school, but getting there sometimes proves challenging. Her school is one-and-a-half miles away from her home, and it’s hard for her to travel alone. Her older brother or friends usually go with here, but–too often for her liking–she misses class when no one can help.

    "I like going to school,” Kimhouy says. “Sometimes it's hard for me to stand up. Sometimes I fall down when I'm too tired. Some of my classmates make fun of me because of my disability, but I try not to take it seriously. I like to play in the playground with my friends and I want to be a teacher when I grow up.”

    Header image: A young girl named Kimhouy sits on a bench while a physical therapist fits her for artificial legs at a rehabilitation center in Cambodia. Her mother sits nearby. Copyright: Stephen Rae/HI
    Inline image: Kimhouy smiles from inside a toy car at a rehabilitation center in Cambodia. Her left arm, which is amputated, rests on the toy car's door. Copyright: Stephen Rae/HI

  • Syria | ‘It will take at least two generations to rebuild’

    After a decade of war, Syria has been completely contaminated by explosive remnants on a scale experts have never seen before. When the conflict ends, the complex work of clearing weapons and rebuilding the country will begin. Emmanuel Sauvage, Director of Armed Violence Reduction at Humanity & Inclusion, tells us more. 

    What makes contamination in Syria different?

    There are two reasons why Syria is a special case when it comes to weapons clearance. The first is the very wide range of weapons used. After a decade of conflict, Syrian soil is contaminated by a complete spectrum of explosive weapons including unexploded bombs, explosive remnants and booby traps, and improvised mines. The second is the fact that urban areas and their outskirts are the worst affected. You find the widest range of explosive weapons in cities. We know from experience that it is particularly difficult to clear urban areas. In Raqqa, for example, where 80% of the city has been destroyed, the ground is littered with rubble mixed with explosive remnants and booby traps left behind by the belligerent parties. In Laos, they are still clearing weapons 45 years after the Vietnam War, so I think it will take at least two generations to clear Syria. 

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    What are the obstacles to weapons clearance in Syria today?

    The variety of explosive weapons used in the Syrian conflict makes clearance complex. Each type of explosive weapon works in a different way. You don’t neutralize an improvised mine in the same way as an unexploded bomb. We need to deploy different experts for different types of explosive weapons in the ground. But since there are all kinds of explosive weapons in Syria, we need many more professionals trained in these types of weapons. 

    Mine clearance in urban areas is particularly long and complicated. When buildings and infrastructure are destroyed in cities, the rubble is contaminated by explosive remnants. In some Syrian cities we can almost measure contamination in cubic meters because the ground is contaminated by layers of rubble and explosive remnants. This requires specific resources, professionals trained in this type of contamination, and great care to be taken when clearing and reconstructing cities. 


    When we talk about reconstruction, what exactly do we mean?

    Reconstruction obviously begins with weapons clearance. The international community must take action to protect Syrian lives from explosive remnants. Some 11.5 million Syrians out of a total population of 17 million are currently at risk from these weapons. Weapons clearance is therefore a priority in reconstructing the country. 

    Then comes the actual reconstruction, which is divided into interdependent stages: the reconstruction of infrastructure and housing, economic recovery, but also restoring the link between the different communities damaged by a decade of conflict. It’s a huge challenge. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the early 2000s, apart from weapons clearance, it was important to get the communities talking to each other again in order to plan for long-term peace. Weapons clearance brought people together around a problem and shared risks, and provided a starting point for dialogue and collective initiatives. It marked the first step towards defusing the tension caused by the conflict.

    We also have to think about how to support individuals. Syrians have experienced the horrors of war, and they need physical and psychological support. Physical trauma such as amputations, brain and spinal cord injuries, but also psychological trauma need specific care. I think it will take at least two generations to rebuild Syria. 

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    Humanity & Inclusion and the Syria crisis

    Since the organization began its response to the Syria crisis in 2012, Humanity & Inclusion has helped 1.8 million Syrians in six countries through emergency rehabilitation, psychological support, and supplying prosthetics and other assistive devices. As of December 2020, Humanity & Inclusion provided 14,000 prosthetics or orthotics to Syrians and conducted rehabilitation sessions with 180,000 people. Learn more about our work and the Syria crisis.

    Header image: Destroyed buildings and other debris.
    Inline image: Humanity & Inclusion's Emmanuel Sauvage speaks into a microphone held by a reporter at an event in France. Copyright: Basile Barbey/HI, 2020


  • Uganda | Aisha's wheelchair gets a makeover

    Aisha has been using a wheelchair for more than 10 years because she has post-polio paralysis and a lower limb discrepancy, in which her right leg is shorter than her left. Humanity & Inclusion gave her wheelchair a makeover.

    Aisha sells groceries in a local market in her town, a suburb of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. She travels about three miles in her wheelchair everyday, pushing it herself.

    Worried about the state of her worn out wheelchair - its cushion torn - Aisha visited Humanity & Inclusion’s workshop.

    During an assessment, Humanity & Inclusion found that the front castor wheel wheel was small and wobbly, and the rear tires were thin and worn, making it more difficult for Aisha to push her wheelchair. The chair was also too small. 

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    Humanity & Inclusion didn’t have a new wheelchair available to fit Aisha’s needs, so the team gave her existing wheelchair a major overhaul. 

    The team made a new cushion, adjusted the seat width, replaced the rear tires and changed out the front castor wheel to an appropriate size. The brakes were also replaced.

    After her wheelchair was re-assembled and checked for proper fitting, Aisha was re-trained on its use and maintenance to reduce of chances of it breaking down. 

    Aisha was overwhelmed with joy when she saw her revamped wheelchair. 

    “Wow, I am now going to enjoy my ride to the market since my worries have been sorted,” Aisha says.

    Like Aisha, many wheelchair users have difficulty getting an affordable wheelchair that meets their specific needs, is suitable for their environment, fits properly. Making custom wheelchairs available not only promotes mobility, but it allows for people with disabilities to have independence and be more involved in their communities. 

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    Image: A woman named Aisha gives a thumbs-up while sitting in her wheelchair, surrounded by the team who made repairs to her chair in Uganda. Copyright: HI

  • Uganda | 3D printing technology helps Hakim walk

    Humanity & Inclusion is using telemedicine and 3D printing to provide physical rehabilitation services for refugees in Uganda. This innovative technology is helping to improve mobility and restore hope!

    When a member of Humanity & Inclusion’s psychosocial support team first met Hakim, he had lost all hope. As a teenager in South Sudan, Hakim had a severe case of malaria and experienced a stroke that left him unable to use the limbs on the right side of his body.

    “I do not think this life is worth living,” Hakim said at the time. “With these impairments, I cannot take care of myself. I cannot bathe. I cannot participate in meetings. I cannot visit friends. I would be better off dead.”

    Today, Hakim, who is in his 30s, lives in the Omugo refugee settlement in northern Uganda where accessing basic services and information can be especially difficult for people with disabilities. Humanity & Inclusion has been working in the area since 2017, providing different kinds of support to improve quality of life for the most vulnerable refugees.

    Months of hard work

    In the refugee settlement, Hakim and his family were connected with a physical therapist and a psychosocial worker from Humanity & Inclusion. Together, they have worked on physical exercises to help improve his mobility and independence, and both Hakim and his caretakers received counseling to relieve the stress and anxiety felt by the whole family. 

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    Four months of hard work saw a steady improvement in Hakim’s ability to move around his home and less need for physical support from others. However, he was still unable to walk more than a few steps and remained confined to his home. 

    To progress further, Hakim needed a custom-fit brace that would provide support for his lower leg. Acquiring one would usually require a long and expensive journey to a rehabilitation center in the capital city, but Humanity & Inclusion is using the latest technology to provide these medical opportunities to people living in impoverished, remote places.

    A high-tech solution

    Hakim’s leg was scanned not far from his home using a portable kit comprised of a tablet computer and a structure sensor. The 3D scan was remotely modified by an expert to generate a computerized model of his made-to-measure splint. The splint was then produced by Humanity & Inclusion’s 3D printers in the nearest small town and brought back to Hakim by his physical therapist.

    My life has greatly changed ever since Humanity & Inclusion started working with me,” says Hakim. ‘“The orthosis has greatly improved my walking … I never imagined I would be able to walk for more than a mile! I can go to the hospital on my own, I participate in community meetings and my voice is heard!” 

    Despite the challenges posed by Covid-19 in 2020, Humanity & Inclusion’s 3D rehabilitation team has reached more than 82 people like Hakim in Uganda’s refugee settlements. Each has their own story of restored independence and renewed hope. 

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    Image: A man named Hakim sits in a chair while he is fitted for a 3D-printed splint at a rehabilitation center in a refugee camp in Uganda. Copyright: HI, 2020

  • Legacy Gift: Declaration of Intent

    Legacies in the form of planned giving ensure that your generosity reaches generations to come, while you and your family enjoy the benefits of smart financial planning. 

    Thank you for including a gift to Humanity & Inclusion in your will and making a lasting commitment to creating a more inclusive world. The information you provide about your legacy gift to Humanity & Inclusion will ensure the accuracy of our records, so we can use your gift in the way you intend. This is not a binding legal document, and your information will be kept confidential. If you have any questions, please contact Mica Bevington, U.S. Director of Marketing and Communications, at [email protected].

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  • Afghanistan | Mahnaz is back on her feet again

    When she was 4, Mahnaz lost the use of her legs. Since meeting the Humanity & Inclusion team, this determined little girl is getting back on her feet again.

    As a toddler, Mahnaz loved playing games with her friends, but that changed when her health quickly deteriorated. Soon, she couldn’t stand or use her arms. At an age when most children are exploring the world around them, Mahnaz found herself unable to walk.

    Mahnaz, her parents, and her six siblings have always lived in extreme poverty. Her father is a laborer, who is away most of the time, working in Afghanistan’s Ghur province to provide for his family. Despite their difficult situation, Mahnaz's parents tried to help their daughter using traditional treatments, but nothing worked. They lost hope in ever finding a solution.

    Nine months ago, when Humanity & Inclusion’s mobile team in the Herat region offered to treat 9-year-old Mahnaz, they accepted with low expectations.

    "When Humanity & Inclusion started her treatment, we didn't think she would get any better because all the traditional treatments had failed,” Mahnaz’s mother explains. “We didn't believe in it anymore.”

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    Since people in Herat have almost no access to health care, Humanity & Inclusion’s mobile teams provide at-home services to vulnerable individuals, including people with disabilities.

    Mahnaz's life has changed immensely. Mahnaz does regular rehabilitation exercises to strengthen her muscles and improve her balance. Humanity & Inclusion has given her leg braces and a walking frame. Equipped and determined, Mahnaz is learning to walk again.

    The girl's mother can’t believe the progress Mahnaz has made. “Mahnaz has started to improve,” she says. “She can stand up and do a few steps with her braces. She is walking better, and we think it’s going to work! We're so happy!”

    Mahnaz dreams of running and even playing soccer. Once she is self-reliant, her family wants to enroll her in school.

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    Image: A young girl named Mahnaz wears leg braces and stands with the help of a walker outside in Afghanistan. Copyright: O. Zerah/HI

  • Afghanistan | Safa makes strides despite living with paraplegia

    Since meeting Humanity & Inclusion’s mobile team in Afghanistan’s Herat region, 14-year-old Safa has covered a lot of ground. 

    When Safa was a young girl, she fell sick with a high fever. Her muscles got weak and, over time, she began living with paraplegia as her legs were paralyzed and deformed. Safa would spend hours sitting or lying down, which only worsened her situation. 

    Since Safa began working with Humanity & Inclusion’s mobile team, the teenager can finally stand, take a few steps, draw and dream of a new life. Safa is one of more than 4,000 people in Herat to whom Humanity & Inclusion’s emergency mobile teams provided care in 2020. 

    These teams provide rehabilitation and psychosocial support to people living in areas affected by decades of conflict, working specifically to provide physical therapy and assistive devices to people with disabilities.

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    Humanity & Inclusion provided Safa with at-home rehabilitation care, a wheelchair, and equipment adapted to her everyday life, and also referred her to partner organization to be fitted with orthotics to help her walk.

    "I met Safa during one of our disability awareness sessions," explains one of Humanity & Inclusion’s physical therapists working in Herat. "This girl with paraplegia received no support unfortunately and she was almost completely reliant on others. Now, I visit her regularly to do rehabilitation exercises. She can stand upright and her deformities are less severe. Once she had regained some strength in her muscles, we gave her a walking frame. Safa is happy and proud of the progress she has made in just a few months.”

    Sitting and standing again have changed Safa’s life. She can draw and take part in everyday activities. She wants a normal life and would like to go to school. One thing's for sure: Safa is working hard to become more self-reliant and she is filled with hope for the future.

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    Image: A teenage girl named Safa stands with the support of a standing frame in Afghanistan. She is coloring. Copyright: O. Zerah/HI

  • Afghanistan | Bomb-blast victim Fazlu recovers with physical therapy

    Thanks to his willpower and rehabilitation sessions with Humanity & Inclusion's physical therapists, Fazlu, 6, is back on his feet after his village was bombed.

    An air raid on his home village in Afghanistan’s Badghis Province claimed the lives of Fazlu’s brother and sister. Fazlu was severely burned and his right leg was injured. The resulting muscle contractions and scarring caused muscle weakness and pain, significantly reducing Fazlu’s range of motion. It ached when he made any kind of physical effort and he found himself unable to move.

    Fazlu, his parents, and his six remaining siblings sought refuge after the bombing at a camp for displaced people in Herat. The family is extremely poor and live in a small mud house.

    Humanity & Inclusion’s mobile emergency team in Herat visits the camp regularly to provide support to especially vulnerable people - like Fazlu and Juma, another air strike victim - at their homes.

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    When Humanity & Inclusion's mobile team first spotted Fazlu, it was three months after the bombing, and he couldn’t walk. The team began his treatment immediately.

    Making progress each day

    Just months later, Fazlu’s life is returning to a new normal. The mobile team provides him regular physical therapy session at home.

    “Session after session, he has made real progress," says Abdul, the mobile team's physical therapist.

    It didn’t take long for Fazlu to understand the importance of his rehabilitation exercises. He is determined to get better and his hard work is already paying off. Now, he can walk and even run around with his friends.


    “My son’s life is back to normal,” says Fazlu’s mother. “He can do the things he was doing before, and he's much better! I am really grateful to the physical therapists at Humanity & Inclusion for their help.”

    Although Fazlu would like to go to school, conditions in the camp make that impossible. Still, he is enjoying his newfound freedom and loves running around and playing games with his friends.

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    Header image: A young boy named Fazlu does exercises with a physical therapist outside a mud house in Afghanistan. Copyright: O. Zerat/HI
    Inline image: A young boy named Fazlu sits in a circle with other children playing a game in Afghanistan. Copyright: O. Zerat/HI

  • Yemen | Humanity & Inclusion builds new rehabilitation unit

    Humanity & Inclusion has built a new rehabilitation unit in Sana’a, North Yemen, where patients will have access to specific rehabilitation equipment such as treatment tables, shoulder wheels and exercise bikes.

    Yemen has been torn apart by five years of conflict. Before the conflict, rehabilitation services were already deeply insufficient. Now, these needs have skyrocketed with half of the country's medical infrastructures unable to operate.

    Humanity & Inclusion's new rehabilitation unit at the Al Kuwait hospital, one of the main hospitals in Sana’a, will enable patients to receive the high-quality medical support they need before being discharged. The rehabilitation unit will be run by one physical therapist and three assistants trained by Humanity & Inclusion.

    This project is possible thanks to the support of the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway and Luxembourg.

    Who will benefit from the new rehabilitation unit?

    300 patients are expected to benefit from the new facility every month.  This will include inpatients from every hospital department such as orthopedic, neurological and surgical departments as well as outpatients.

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    The injuries of the patients who will be treated at this unit will vary from those caused by traffic accidents to those caused by airstrikes or explosive devices arising from the ongoing conflict. Patients may also receive rehabilitation support if they experience chronic diseases or have disabilities. Other NGOs will refer patients to Humanity & Inclusion’s unit if they are on a list to receive prosthetics or orthotics.

    Why is the rehabilitation unit so vital?

    Al Kuwait hospital is the third largest public hospital in the capital with a capacity of around 300 beds. Patients who are admitted to this hospital travel from different regions within an average radius of 125 miles. 

    Rehabilitation work in Yemen

    • Humanity & Inclusion’s team operates in nine health facilities across Sana’a, Aden and Mokha and has supported 30,000 beneficiaries since its operations started in late 2015.
    • 34,000 mobility aids have been distributed since 2015, including equipment such as crutches, wheelchairs, walking sticks/canes, walkers, etc.
    • Almost 500 people have been provided with prosthetics or orthotics.
    • Humanity & Inclusion has helped train nearly 900 medical professionals.

    Adapting to Covid-19

    Humanity & Inclusion has adapted its activities in Yemen in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. For example:

    • Humanity & Inclusion has provided staff and patients with hygiene kits and personal protective equipment.
    • The team has also worked to set up information sessions for the most vulnerable populations to highlight the risks and raise awareness of the pandemic.
    • A telephone line has been set up to allow staff to continue monitoring patients and their families remotely.
    • Humanity & Inclusion has followed more than 200 patients with Covid-19, identifying their needs, and referring them to the appropriate services.

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    Image: Two treatment tables and other equipment are shown in a room at Humanity & Inclusion's new rehabilitation unit in Yemen. Copyright: HI

  • Syria | Reduced humanitarian access impedes response to Covid-19, winter conditions

    January 28, 2021
    Contact: Elizabeth Johnson Sellers

    Humanity & Inclusion joined a number of humanitarian aid organizations to warn that reduced humanitarian access is impeding response to rising cases of Covid-19 and the harsh effects of winter in Northern Syria amid shortages of humanitarian aid. The organizations are calling on the UN Security Council to assure continued cross-border access.

    Sub-zero temperatures, floods and soaring food prices – combined with rising cases of Covid-19 and ongoing aid shortages – have rapidly increased the needs across northern Syria at a time when humanitarian access to the area has been severely constrained, NGOs warned today - six months after the UN Security Council voted to further limit access points for humanitarian aid to the country.

    Women, men and children are suffering from lack of access to aid, including food, water and medical supplies including oxygen, and funding is falling short of meeting the basic needs of millions of Syrians across the country.

    With only 9 hospitals operationalized for Covid-19, 212 ICU beds and 162 ventilators in North West Syria for a population of four million, the overwhelmed health sector is unable to cope with the rise in cases, leading families to desperate measures to survive.

    Mahmoud, 48, a father of two, who went to the length of buying his own ventilator, died in Idlib this month in a hospital’s corridor, waiting for oxygen. With an alarming 28 percent of people testing positive for Covid-19 in North West Syria’s internal displacement settlements as of December 2020, Mahmoud’s fate could represent the devastating reality for thousands.

    The following joint statement was released on January 28:

    “Six months ago, just as the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in North West Syria and despite warnings of persistently high levels of need, the UN Security Council voted to close a critical crossing point for humanitarian aid between Turkey and Syria, jeopardizing access to life saving aid for hundreds of thousands of Syrians.

    “The now-closed Bab al-Salam crossing had facilitated desperately needed humanitarian assistance including food, shelter and medical supplies such as vaccines and PPE for hundreds of thousands of displaced people in North West Syria, the majority of whom are women and children.

    “Covid-19 cases in the North West Syria now stand at 20,717 after the number of cases reportedly quadrupled between November and December. In the North East Covid-19 cases have also reached highs of 8,227 as of January 12th. These numbers are thought to be a vast underestimate due to extremely limited case detection and testing capacity across the country, particularly in the North East.

    “With a healthcare infrastructure decimated by 10 years of conflict, the pandemic is threatening to turn an already dire humanitarian situation into a catastrophe, as families in Northern Syria face stark choices to survive. Many cannot afford to feed their families, let alone buy a mask to protect themselves and others. Lack of oxygen and insufficient access to adequate water and sanitation are just some of the desperate circumstances that health workers have had to contend with while trying to save the lives of people suffering from Covid-19 over recent months.

    “Just one channel now remains through which the UN is able to deliver life-saving supplies including those needed to address the life-threatening effects of Covid-19 and winter to populations in the North West, at a time when more and more families are being forced to make unacceptable tradeoffs to survive.

    “Aid going through this last remaining crossing, Bab al-Hawa, has never been more important but is under immense pressure. Violence and insecurity have previously forced the crossing to close, and ongoing conflict risks delaying the delivery of aid to vulnerable populations. There are fears adverse weather conditions or insecurity may at any time cut off the only remaining road to reach hundreds of thousands of displaced people previously supported through the now-closed Bab al-Salam crossing.

    “Over the last week, sub-zero temperatures, heavy rain and wind has forced more than 20,000 displaced people to abandon their homes and shelters after heavy flooding and has led to the death of at least one child. For thousands of families, it will take a very long time to recover from this storm.

    “In six months’ time, the UN Security Council will vote again to decide whether to allow UN-led assistance to continue to flow to millions of Syrians living in the North West of the country. Any move to further restrict access will have dire consequences for the millions whose lives depend on humanitarian aid.

    “States must learn lessons from the Security Council’s decision 12 months ago to remove the only UN crossing to the North East, home to the densely populated Al Hol camp and hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrians. This decision has contributed to gaps in provision of aid, funding and access to supplies to populations in the North East, including basic medicines and Covid-19 testing kits. The situation is only set to worsen as latest projections show that between 40% and 50% of the population of North East Syria are likely to have been infected with Covid-19 by the end of May 2021.

    “UN cross-border humanitarian access to North West Syria must be assured now and in the future and the Security Council must urgently address ongoing access challenges across the country. It is critical for continuing to deliver the most basic forms of life-saving aid to those who need it most. The loss of access would contribute to a rapid increase in hunger, an out-of-control Covid-19 crisis, and unnecessary suffering and death. 10 years into this conflict, we cannot turn our backs on the Syrian people, and risk the lives of millions.”


    Save the Children
    International Rescue Committee
    Norwegian Refugee Council
    World Vision
    Humanity & Inclusion
    Islamic Relief USA
    Mercy Corps
    Christian Aid
    Hand in Hand for Aid and Development (HIHFAD)
    Syrian American Medical Society
    Syria Relief & Development (SRD)
    Social Development International (SDI)
    Syrian Expatriate Medical Association (SEMA)
    GOAL USA Fund
    Life for Relief and Development
    Embrace Relief Foundation
    Mercy-USA for Aid and Development
    Global Communities and PCI

  • Cambodia | Sreyka recovers from car accident that took her leg

    Sreyka was walking home from school in May 2019 when she was hit by a speeding driver and had to have her left leg amputated. She's returned to school after Humanity & Inclusion fitted her with a prosthesis.

    Sreyka, 8, was skipping along the road after school when she was knocked down by a large speeding vehicle just 55 yards from her home. Seriously injured, she was rushed to a nearby health center and then to the nearest hospital, which lacked the equipment needed to treat her. Sreyka was taken to a pediatric hospital in Cambodia's capital city, where her left leg was amputated to save her life.

    Sreyka's family lives with her maternal grandparents in a village in the Tbong Khmum province. The family lives on a limited income, made by her father who works in construction. Sreyka’s mother takes care her, her 14-year-old sister and their home.

    Putting her prosthesis to the test

    Seven months after the accident, Sreyka visited Humanity & Inclusion’s rehabilitation center in Kampong Cham, an hour from her village. The team of physical therapists and prosthetic technicians immediately took good care of her, providing her a custom-fit artificial leg and teaching her how to walk with it.

    "I'm so happy that my daughter can walk to school again with her prosthesis and do so many things on her own," says Sreyka's mother. "She was really unhappy. And it was difficult for me too, because I had to carry her a lot and help her with everyday chores, lift her from room to room, and take her outside or to the toilet or bathroom. I am grateful to Humanity & Inclusion for their work because it means my daughter can be fitted with prostheses!"

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    Sreyka and her mother visit the center regularly for adjustments and replacements of her artificial limb - she's already on her second prosthesis and will only need more as she grows! They also learn tips to care for Sreyka's stump. For instance, it's really important to change the girl's socks (on her stump) as often as possible. Her stump could become infected if they don't tend to it.

    "In addition to regularly providing her with prostheses and teaching her to walk with her prostheses, the team at the rehabilitation center also does physical therapy exercises with Sreyka and gives her counseling,” explains Mr. Doung Chetha, the coordinator of Humanity & Inclusion’s Kampong Cham Rehabilitation Center.

    A bit of a daredevil, Sreyka is putting her new leg to the test.

    "I like to play with my friends at school, I pretend to be a ghost,” Sreyka says. “I always enjoyed running around the house with my cousins and friends. And now I can do what I love again! Sometimes I try to ride my bike and even skid in front of my grandparents' house.”


    Back to school

    Sreyka is gradually overcoming the trauma of her accident. Her confidence is growing and she is engaging more with her family and friends.

    When she first returned to school, the second grader felt shy at first and wore long skirts to hide her legs, but now she wears the same uniform as her classmates. Sreyka has definitely taken to her new leg.

    "My school is quite far away, a half-mile from home, but I often walk there. I really like school,” Sreyka says with a beautiful smile, adding that her favorite subject is Khmer, Cambodia’s primary language. 

    When she grows up, Sreyka hopes to train to make orthotics and prosthetics.

    The Humanity & Inclusion team in Kampong Cham is right to be proud of her!

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    Header image: A young girl named Sreyka shades her eyes while sitting on a bicycle in Cambodia. She is wearing a prosthetic leg. Copyright: Stephen Rae/HI, 2020
    Inline image: Sreyka sits at her school desk, smiling as she raises her hand during class in Cambodia. Copyright: Stephen Rae/HI, 2020

  • Colombia | Mine action continues amid pandemic and violence

    Humanity & Inclusion landmine clearance continues in Colombia despite the Covid-19 crisis and an upsurge in violence.

    In the first half of 2020, mines killed or maimed 181 people in 14 departments of Colombia, according to figures from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

    In Colombia, the second most heavily mined country in the world after Afghanistan, Humanity & Inclusion has led mine clearance operations since 2017. Teams focus their work on three departments plagued heavily by internal violence: Cauca, Meta and Caquetá.

    Thanks to the generous support of the United States of America via the U.S. Department of State’s office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, the Swiss Embassy in Colombia - Swiss Development Cooperation, and donations from thousands of individual donors, Humanity & Inclusion’s Colombian team takes a holistic approach to mine action.

    Teams teach civilians to understand the risks posed by mines and what to do if they come across these deadly devices. Explosive ordnance technicians clear mines. And specialists assist victims of explosive devices to regain their strength and independence with physical therapy, psychological support, and access to inclusive employment.

    Adapting to new challenges

    Humanity & Inclusion continues its efforts despite growing internal violence and population displacement, the emergence of new illegal armed groups who plant explosive devices to protect coca crops and deter rivals, and the Covid-19 crisis.

    Despite this complex situation, Humanity & Inclusion continues to adapt its work to ensure safety of staff and civilians. The organization developed a safety plan to continue working while implementing personal precautionary measures against the Covid-19 pandemic and trained more than 100 staff members and volunteers as "community focal points" to raise the mine risk awareness of fellow villagers.

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    Releasing safe land

    Humanity & Inclusion released more than 15 acres of cleared land to allow farming in hazardous mined areas, enhancing the safety of more than 30,000 people.

    In the town of Inzá in the Cauca department, teams implemented surveyed villagers on the whereabouts of local mines in order to identify mined and unmined areas. Humanity & Inclusion also worked to ensure that locals understood the risks of mines, and released another four acres of land.

    Supporting government officials

    In November 2020, Colombia’s deadline to meet its commitment under the Ottawa Convention to clear areas of the country contaminated by explosive devices was extended to 2025. Humanity & Inclusion has provided the Colombian government with technical support to revise and update national standards, including the development and revision of the 2020-2025 demining plan.

    In 2021, Humanity & Inclusion expects to completely clear the municipalities of Cajibio and Puracé in Cauca of mines and to release more safe land in Vistahermosa in Meta, Inzá, Páez and Santander de Quilichao. The organization also hopes to expand its footprint soon, working in close coordination with the Colombian mine action authority which coordinates clearance across the country.

    Providing victim assistance

    Humanity & Inclusion continues to assist mine victims with disabilities and their caregivers, providing physical rehabilitation sessions, psychosocial care, legal assistance and employment support to find gainful jobs in inclusive work environments.

    Mines terrorize civilians worldwide

    In 2019, more than 5,500 people – 80% of them civilians – were killed or injured by anti-personnel mines and explosive remnants of war worldwide. Of the civilian victims, 43% were children.

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    Image: A woman wearing protective gear kneels on the ground as she works to clear mines in Colombia in 2017. Copyright: J.M. Vargas/HI

  • Afghanistan | Air strike changes Juma's life forever

    An air strike struck the Afghan home of Juma, 14, leaving him with quadriplegia. Regaining his independence is his top goal, and Humanity & Inclusion is right by his side to reach it.

    One night in October 2019, the lives of Juma and his family were rocked by a terrible explosion. His family’s home was targeted in an air strike that killed his 3-year-old sister and injured his father. A severe injury to his brain and spinal cord left Juma with quadriplegia, and difficulty speaking.

    Terrible price

    Displaced, mourning and permanently injured, Juma and his family are paying a heavy toll for an air strike in a conflict they know nothing about. Following the tragedy, Juma’s family fled their village in central Afghanistan's Ghor Province, and took refuge in a camp for displaced people near the city of Herat, where they live in a small mud house in extreme poverty.

    Juma's father was left disabled by a shoulder injury, and can no longer work. Isolated and without income, the family’s main concern is how to meet their basic needs.

    Before Humanity & Inclusion arrived at the camp, Juma hadn’t received any help. Unable to move, the teenage boy spent most of his time in bed. Sometimes his mother would take him outside to enjoy the sun and fresh air.


    'Hope returned'

    Everything changed when Humanity & Inclusion's mobile emergency team first traveled to meet Juma in September 2020. The team visited his home and provided him with rehabilitation care and taught his parents exercises to do with their son. The team also gave the family advice about coping with everyday problems. Juma continues to receive regular follow-up care.

    "When Humanity & Inclusion came to our home, hope returned,” explains Juma's mother. “It was really hard for me to carry my son all day. He couldn't move at all and he was depressed.”

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    Juma’s mother says she is already seeing her son make progress.

    “The team started his treatment right away and gave him a wheelchair and equipment. I also learned how to do his rehabilitation exercises with him,” she says. “He can move his hands again, he is feeling better, and he can do certain things by himself. I am really grateful to Humanity & inclusion for their help."

    Support for the whole family

    In addition to providing physical rehabilitation to Juma, Humanity & Inclusion is also providing psychosocial support for his entire family. The family talks with the mobile team’s counselor, sharing their feelings, discussing their problems, and brainstorming solutions together. This psychosocial support makes it easier for the family to cope with the trauma they’ve endured and the challenges they face. They are not alone.

    As for Juma, he has regained some of his mobility and his morale is improving.

    “I would like to walk again and go to school, just like the other children,” he says.

    Juma is a brave boy and continues to do his rehabilitation exercises with his mother. His beautiful smile has returned, giving hope to the whole family.

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    Header image: A teenage boy named Juma sits in a wheelchair surrounded by other children in Afghanistan. Copyright: O. Zerah/HI
    Inline image: Juma laughs during a rehabilitation session with a member of Humanity & Inclusion’s team in front of his family’s mud home in Afghanistan. Copyright: O. Zerah/HI

  • Bangladesh | Fire robs refugee child of his wheelchair

    Shohelur was speechless when he saw his charred wheelchair among the ashes.

    The wheelchair that gave Shohelur independence, the standing frame used for his physical therapy exercises, and his inclusive learning materials were all destroyed as a fire spread through a refugee camp for Rohingya families in southern Bangladesh on the night of January 14. Shohelur and his family managed to escape the flames, but they returned home the next morning to find all of their possessions destroyed.

    “Everything has ended for my family and every dream has ended in our life, we need support to return to our normal life,” Shohelur’s mother said to a member of Humanity & Inclusion’s team providing support in the camp. With nowhere else to go, Shohelur and his family are temporarily living with relatives in another shelter at the refugee camp.

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    Shohelur, who has Cerebral Palsy, loved that his wheelchair made it possible for him to play outside with his friends. Humanity & Inclusion had provided the young boy the wheelchair, toys that support his development, and physical therapy sessions.

    In the aftermath of the fire, which destroyed hundreds of shelters, Humanity & Inclusion is assisting thousands of refugees who find themselves displaced again.

    So far, Humanity & Inclusion has distributed supply kits – which include non-food items like clothes and sleeping mats – to more than 500 households. The organization’s local team of psychosocial workers is providing psychological aid after the traumatic events.


    Humanity & Inclusion is also working with its long-standing beneficiaries at the camp to assess the fire’s damage and identify what belongings – like Shohelur’s wheelchair – need to be replaced. Shohelur has already received a new toilet chair, mattress and standing frame, and the Humanity & Inclusion team has taken his measurements to make sure his new custom wheelchair fits just right.

    Shohelur says he loved his chair. It helped his balanced and allowed him to sit independently. Before the fire, he always enjoyed his physical therapist’s company. He was always smiling through his sessions!

    Header image: A charred wheelchair lays amid ruins after a fire at a refugee camp in Bangladesh. Copyright: HI
    Inline image: A young boy named Shohelur sits in a chair while Humanity & Inclusion staff take his measurements for a custom wheelchair. They are at a refugee camp in Bangladesh. Copyright: HI