Elizabeth Johnson Sellers

  • Sahel | Working toward inclusive education for girls with disabilities

    Humanity & Inclusion observed the International Day of Education on January 24, by alerting Sahel countries’ governments and international cooperation organizations on the unjust exclusion of girls with disabilities from school.

    Worldwide, women with disabilities are three times more likely to be illiterate than men without disabilities. The education of young girls, including girls with disabilities, is an injustice that Humanity & Inclusion is fighting against, particularly in the Sahel region, which includes many low-income countries.

    In 2020, Humanity & Inclusion donors and partners helped fund 52 inclusive education projects in 27 countries in West, Central, North and East Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. This work focuses in particular on children with disabilities - the most vulnerable and excluded young learners in the world - in low-income countries, both in development and emergency contexts. Humanity & Inclusion teams work to increase enrollment, participation and the success of children and young adults with disabilities in education.

    The reality of girls' education in the Sahel

    Few girls with disabilities attend school in the Sahel Region, which stretches through parts of Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Sudan.

    In Mali, less than 18% of women with disabilities can read and write. In Niger and Mali, more than half of the girls enrolled in primary school do not follow through to secondary education. In Burkina Faso, only 1% of girls have completed secondary school. For girls with disabilities, they face double the challenge of obtaining an education. 

    Prejudices against disability

    In the Sahel, children with disabilities also face horrific levels of prejudice and false beliefs. For instance, some families see having a child with a disability as a "tragedy" or a "punishment." Children with disabilities are treated poorly and sometimes even hidden. Some people believe that disability is contagious.

    According to some beliefs in the Sahel Region, the bodies of people with disabilities have magical properties. Girls with intellectual disabilities are vulnerable to sexual abuse and violence because some believe that sexual intercourse could bring them wealth or power or even cure AIDS.

    The role of boys

    A boy is considered to be responsible for the family's future income. Boys are sent to school and have a better chance of getting a paid job. It is seen as unnecessary for girls to attend school, as they are routinely confined to domestic work.

    Children with disabilities are very often seen as an additional burden on the family, and girls with disabilities even more so. The costs of educating girls with disabilities are considered too high, in part because of the economic loss involved. Girls with disabilities often contribute to the economic survival of the household through begging or by participating in domestic chores.

    Obstacles at school

    When they manage to attend school, girls with disabilities face many obstacles. They often drop out of school early as they approach puberty, due to the family’s concern to protect them from sexual violence and early pregnancy. The lack of adapted toilets is also a cause of repeated absences and abandonment.

    "I prefer to study but if my parents force me to marry, I will agree to do what they tell me to do." - Fata, blind 11 year-old girl, Mali

    In rural areas, the distance between home and school is a major obstacle to schooling for girls with disabilities. For students who walk to school, long distances pose a safety risk. And the cost of transportation is often too expensive for families.

    Positive experiences

    In Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, experiments in inclusive education for children with sensory impairments are successful. The conditions for success are based on an assessment of the child's needs and the commitment of teaching staff who are proficient in sign language or Braille.

    "The first year was not easy learning Braille. I didn't feel comfortable. But now it's okay. As time went by, I managed to make friends and we learned to understand each other. I would like to go to high school in Senegal and become a lawyer in my country." - Daouda, 16-year-old girl with low vision, Mali

    Importance of education

    It is estimated that an additional year of study can increase a woman's income by 20%. If all adults in the world had completed secondary education, the world poverty rate would be halved.

    Limited access to education leads to low participation in the world of work. In some low- and middle-income countries, the cost of excluding people with disabilities from the workforce is as high as 7% of gross domestic product.

    Reducing inequalities between girls and boys in how they access education could boost the economy by between $112 billion and $152 billion each year in low- and middle-income countries.

    Image: Oumou, 9, who has an amputation, sits behind her desk. She is a beneficiary of the Humanity & Inclusive Education project in Mali. Copyright: Pascale Jérôme Kantoussan/HI

     


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  • Haiti | Earthquake victim Moïse is back on the soccer field

    Moïse lost his leg in 2010, when Haiti was struck by a powerful earthquake. With support from Humanity & Inclusion donors, he received an artificial limb and the chance to reclaim his childhood.

    Moïse was just 4 when a powerful, 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010. He was buried beneath rubble, emerging with such grave injuries that doctors had to amputate his left leg a week later.

    Without crutches, crawling was his only way to move around. Humanity & Inclusion’s team met Moïse, and fit him with a custom-made prosthetic. Rehabilitation professionals helped Moïse regain strength, balance, and eventually the ability to walk again through regular physical therapy sessions.

    Moïse was one of 90,000 Haitians who received rehabilitation support from Humanity & Inclusion (then Handicap International) following the devastating earthquake. Humanity & Inclusion continues to work along Haitians toward long-term recovery plans and future disaster preparedness. Read more about Humanity & Inclusion's work in response to the Haiti earthquake.

    Become a monthly donorMoïse, who will turn 15 in March, lives with his parents and younger brother. Eleven years after the earthquake, he still stays in touch with Humanity & Inclusion staff for continued rehabilitation support. His ongoing care includes new prosthetics as he grows, as well as regular adjustments. Staff also connect him to medical care in case he needs revision surgery.

    Moïse loves playing soccer, going to school, and participating in extracurricular activities including basket-weaving and even classical dance.

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    Header Image: A teenage boy named Moïse holds a soccer ball with the HI logo on it. Two younger boys stand on either side of him. Moïse lost his leg in the Haiti earthquake and wears an artificial limb. Copyright: Davide Preti/HI
    Inline Image Left: Moïse, age 4, practices walking with his new prosthetic leg after the Haiti earthquake. Copyright: William Daniels/HI
    Inline Image Right: Moïse, now a teenager, smiles and pumps his fist. He's wearing an artificial limb. Copyright: Davide Preti/HI

  • Haiti | 11 years after the earthquake, work continues

    After the earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, Humanity & Inclusion (known then as Handicap International) deployed one of the largest emergency response operations in its history. Eleven years later, its work with the most vulnerable people continues.

    Haiti was devastated by the earthquake that killed more than 230,000 people and injured more than 300,000. "In 2010, when the earthquake struck Haiti, there was almost no rehabilitation service in the country," explains Sylvia Sommella, Humanity & Inclusion's director in Haiti.

    Humanity & Inclusion mobilized hundreds of people and with record levels of donor support deployed unprecedented means to help those affected. In the earthquake’s wake, Humanity & Inclusion:

    • provided rehabilitation care to 90,000 people;
    • equipped more than 1,400 people with assistive devices;
    • distributed more than 5,000 wheelchairs, crutches and walkers;
    • extended psychosocial support to more than 25,000 people;
    • built more than 1,000 temporary homes;
    • and delivered more than 20,000 tons of humanitarian aid.

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    Building capacity in Haiti

    Today, Humanity & Inclusion continues to help the Haitian population in executing a long-term disaster response.

    "Thanks to the support of Humanity & Inclusion, which launched the first training of rehabilitation technicians following the earthquake, it is now possible to benefit from rehabilitation sessions in different infrastructures," Sommella explains. "Humanity & Inclusion continues to support health structures, strives to make rehabilitation centers accessible to all, and ensures qualified medical staff."

    In the first six years following the disaster, Humanity & Inclusion trained 86 new medical experts, who are still working Haiti today. This training was supported by USAID. Training is ongoing for rehabilitation technicians and physical therapists continue to develop their skills through virtual coaching.

    Preparing for future disasters

    Humanity & Inclusion has made it a priority to work with people living in remote areas, so they can be prepared and protected should disaster strike again. That work includes providing partner organizations with shipping and storage services to ensure humanitarian supplies are available to the most vulnerable families for future natural disasters and emergencies.

    In addition to disaster preparedness, Humanity & Inclusion is also working alongside Haitians to create economic and employment opportunities and fight Covid-19.

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    Image: A woman works on an artificial leg in 2017 at a rehabilitation center supported by Humanity & Inclusion. Copyright: Nadia Todres/HI

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  • Mali | Installing solar panels for a brighter future

    With Humanity & Inclusion’s support, Dicko installs and repairs solar panels to support his family.

    Finding paid work is difficult as a young adult in Mali, where the youth unemployment rate is as high as 32% in certain regions.

    The challenge of entering the workforce is only exacerbated by unrest in the country. Mali is under threat from a rise in crime, the use of improvised explosive devices and the presence of armed groups that use extreme violence. Such dangerous variables have forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. On top of that, a climate crisis causing intense flooding and droughts. As a result, almost 7 million people need humanitarian assistance.

    In 2018, Humanity & Inclusion began working with young people, helping them obtain the qualifications and financial support needed to earn a living. Dicko is one of them.

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    A young father and experienced electrician, Dicko is realizing his ambitions with the help Humanity & Inclusion. Like many young entrepreneurs in Mali, Dicko is launching businesses that will have a positive environmental impact.

    “I wanted to grow my business, but I wasn’t able to take on larger jobs because I couldn’t finance all the (startup) materials needed,” Dicko explains. “After presenting my business plan to Humanity & Inclusion, I received training in how to install and repair solar panels as well as a grant to buy equipment.”

    Humanity & Inclusion has already helped 50 young Malians find employment in the solar energy sector. By the end of 2021, 3,000 young people like Dicko will have accessed the training and resources they need to work toward a stable and sustainable future.

    “Specializing in solar energy means I have unique skills,” Dicko says. “I want to help market solar energy materials and equipment in Mali and convince people to invest in solar products. My dream would be to employ others in my business to help fight unemployment in my region.”

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    Image: A young man named Dicko squats beside a solar panel on a rooftop in Mali. He is holding a roll of tape and there are tools beside him. Copyright: HI

  • Afghanistan | It shouldn't be dangerous for a child to graze his goats

    Ali was out grazing his family's goats one day in March 2020, when he took a step that would change his life forever.

    He stepped on an explosive remnant of war, one of the many weapons left from war that contaminates his village in Afghanistan

    The 9-year-old boy was seriously injured and rushed to a hospital. Doctors there had no choice but to amputate Ali's leg below his knee.

    "Ali couldn't walk after his accident," says the boy’s uncle. "We were desperate. We couldn’t leave him alone. Without his leg, he needed help from dawn till dusk. We were all stressed and really upset."

    Plagued by conflict, poverty, explosive weapons

    Ali lives with his parents and five siblings in a village in Afghanistan that is mired by conflict. Villagers face extreme poverty, cut off from vital resources, their farmland contaminated with explosive weapons. Ali's father, who used to work as a day laborer, can no longer find work.

    Ali was caring for his family's goats – their only means of survival – when the blast stole his right leg.

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    Road to recovery

    Soon after Ali's operation, the Humanity & Inclusion team began working to fit him with an artificial limb at its rehabilitation center in Kandahar. Humanity & Inclusion teams have worked in Afghanistan since 1987.

    "I’m really grateful to the Humanity & Inclusion team for doing their best to make Ali's prosthesis so quickly, and for helping him do his walking exercises," says Ali’s uncle, who accompanied his nephew at the rehabilitation center. "He can walk now and he’s really hopeful about the future."

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    Ali began physical therapy in April and was fitted for his first artificial limb soon after. During six, daylong sessions with the Humanity & Inclusion team in May, Ali learned to walk again and final adjustments were made to his prosthetic.

    Within two months of the tragic event, Ali went home to his family with a new artificial leg that helps him be the same active boy he was before. Since then, Ali has returned a couple of times to Humanity & Inclusion’s rehabilitation center for follow-up care and minor repairs to his artificial limb.

    "The first time I visited the center, my uncle had to carry me," Ali explains. "I couldn't walk. But now I can go home on my own two legs and play with other children again. I feel happier since I got my new leg."

    Dreams beyond the region's conflict

    Ali is a fighter and a lover of cricket. But even with his new leg, Ali's life is not back to normal.

    Conflict continues in the region where he lives. The threat of Covid-19 is ever-present. Schools are closed. Survival is uncertain. Still, Ali dreams of a peaceful future in which he can return to the classroom.

    "Now I have a new leg I can go back to school and get an education," Ali says. "I could do anything I want. I like drawing a lot but what I really want to do when I grow up is to be a doctor so I can help people!"

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    Header Image: A Humanity & Inclusion team member, who is wearing a mask and medical scrubs, squats on the floor of a rehabilitation center in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He is fitting a prosthetic leg on a young boy named Ali, who is sitting on a bench. The boy is smiling at the man.
    Inline Image: A young boy named Ali sits on a bench outside in Afghanistan. His left leg is amputated below his knee. Copyright: Jaweed Tanveer

     

     



  • Philippines | Continuing support for people with disabilities amid a pandemic

    The COVID-19 crisis hasn’t stopped Humanity & Inclusion from providing personalized care for people with disabilities.  

    Danwell P. Esperas full-time job is helping people with disabilities find gainful employment opportunities, something that often proves difficult due to discrimination, inaccessibility or stigma. But his work doesn’t stop there. As a personalized social support officer for Humanity & Inclusion, Danwell provides tailored follow-up care for people in Valenzuela, a city near Manila in the Philippines, helping them access community resources and take care of their mental, physical and economic wellbeing.

    Danwell works under Humanity & Inclusion’s Forward Together Project: Empowering Youth with Disabilities in Asia, which aims to help people between 18 and 40 with disabilities access meaningful employment in Manila, Philippines and Jakarta, Indonesia.

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    Preparing people with disabilities for the workforce

    Danwell, a registered nurse by profession but a development working by heart, provides personalized social support that empowers project participants to learn more about themselves, improve their skills, access employment opportunities, and reach their life goals.

    In May 2019, Danwell met a man who is deaf, with aspirations to work for a manufacturing company. Starting with an initial assessment, Danwell guided the man in creating a personalized action plan and provided advice on writing a resume and giving a successful job interview. After two weeks of coaching sessions, the participant landed a job, where he was also able to teach his co-workers the basics of Filipino sign language.

    Covid-19 presents unique challenges

    Unfortunately, like so many people around the world, Covid-19 pandemic plunged the man into a new and serious economic crisis. He lost his job, but Danwell continued to support him by providing sessions to cope with the trauma and information on accessing assistance from different government agencies. 

    He is just one of the project participants who Danwell has continued to coach amid the pandemic through remote sessions on Covid-19 prevention and awareness, stress management, the importance of self-care, and how to access financial assistance and goods being provided by the government. Humanity & Inclusion’s Forward Together project also adapted its strategies to Covid-19 by providing cash transfers to project participants so they can afford basic needs like housing, food and medicine.

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    Image: Danwell P. Esperas is a personalized social support officer for Humanity & Inclusion in the Philippines. He meets with participants in the Forward Together project, which works to connect people with disabilities to gainful employment. Copyright: HI

  • Cambodia | Despite COVID-19, Sreyoun continues physical therapy

    The COVID-19 crisis hasn’t stopped Sreyoun’s mother and the Humanity & Inclusion team from finding ways to help the young girl thrive.

    Since she was 14 months old, Sreyoun has received physical therapy three times a week from the Humanity & Inclusion team in Kampong Cham, Cambodia. But when the Covid-19 pandemic struck and Humanity & Inclusion’s rehabilitation center temporarily closed, Sreyoun’s mother worried that her daughter, who was born with cerebral palsy, might not get the care she desperately needs.

    With the help of her mother, Sreyoun, now 3, continued to practice the exercises taught by Humanity & Inclusion’s physical therapists every day at home.

    A young girl sits on her mother's lap. The mother, wearing a mask, stares down at her daughter.

    Meanwhile, Humanity & Inclusion’s management team was closely monitoring the Covid-19 crisis and government recommendations.

    By April 2020, Humanity & Inclusion had rapidly developed different ways of working in order to keep staff and patients safe and healthy. Humanity & Inclusion began offering tele-rehabilitation sessions, which made it possible to monitor and coach patients, like Sreyoun, remotely. As part of the virtual physical therapy sessions, Humanity & Inclusion’s team also shared inclusive information about Covid-19 prevention to help people with disabilities and their families protect themselves from the virus.

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    By June 2020, Sreyoun was able to return to the rehabilitation center. In keeping with Covid-19 prevention measures by limiting direct contact, Sreyoun’s physical therapist, Khim Phirum, uses a doll to demonstrate exercises that her mother can help her with at home.

    "My daughter is getting better and better,” says Sreyoun’s mother. “She can move her arms, hold objects, sit, and stand with support. I continue practicing physical therapy exercises with my daughter at home. I really hope she will stand independently soon."

    Today, activity at the rehabilitation center has almost returned to normal, while taking preventive measures to avoid spreading Covid-19. Despite the challenge presented by the pandemic, the number of consultations, fittings for accessibility tools like braces and prosthetics, and rehabilitation sessions is likely to match 2019’s total of more than 2,500. And little Sreyoun continues to make great progress! 

    Become a monthly donorHeader image: A young girl named Sreyoun sits in her mother's lap during a rehabilitation session in Cambodia. Her physical therapist is demonstrating physical therapy exercises using a doll. They are all wearing masks. Copyright: HI
    Inline image: A young girl named Sreyoun is held by her mother at a Humanity & Inclusion rehabilitation center in Cambodia. They are both wearing masks. Copyright: HI

  • Cash transfers | A vital addition to humanitarian aid

    Humanity & Inclusion provides cash transfers as part of its humanitarian assistance. This form of aid is vital for vulnerable populations living in countries suffering the disastrous social impact of Covid-19.

    Who benefits from cash transfers?

    This aid is provided to people in serious humanitarian and emergency situations, such as refugee families or families living in extreme poverty due to a natural disaster or food crisis. These families have often already been provided with humanitarian aid - a temporary shelter, food kits or access to medical care, for example - by Humanity & Inclusion or its partners. Recipients must meet certain conditions, called "vulnerability criteria.” These include age (an elderly, isolated person, for example), gender (a single woman with children), or an existing disability. This helps Humanity & Inclusion prioritize cash transfer recipients.

    How does it work?

    Cash is often transferred through a company such as Western Union. Humanity & Inclusion tells people by telephone that they can withdraw a specific amount of money at a special counter by showing a proof of identity. The money may be a one-off payment or paid in installments, depending on the seriousness of the household's situation. Amounts vary according to the cost of living in each country and the number of people in a household - $20 per person in Madagascar, for example, compared to $70 in Colombia. Humanity & Inclusion uses computer data to track withdrawals. Humanity & Inclusion is also in constant contact with beneficiaries to solve any problems they may have.

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    Why cash transfers?

    Most people given a cash transfer have already received other kinds of assistance. Cash transfers can meet needs not generally covered by humanitarian aid, such as paying the rent. An NGO might provide temporary shelter, for example, but rarely helps pay the rent. Some refugees rent somewhere to live in a host country, such as in Lebanon, where many Syrian refugees rent houses. Cash transfers meet essential needs not already covered, such as buying food or medicine. Many people do not have health coverage or do not have access to free public health care because they do not yet have refugee status in a certain country, for example, or for other status-related reasons. 

    Do we know how cash is being used?

    Humanity & Inclusion always carry out assessments on samples of people. The first items people buy are always food, housing or medicine, all of which are vital needs.

    Giving money directly to people who rely on humanitarian aid is a fast and targeted way to meet the basic needs of vulnerable people. Cash transfers allow Humanity & Inclusion to support fragile local economies.

    Image: A Humanity & Inclusion staff member talks with Venezuelan refugees in Colombia, assessing their needs, in 2018. Copyright: HI

  • Biden Administration | Stand Against Landmines, Bombings of Civilians

    A message from Jeff Meer, U.S. Executive Director of Humanity & Inclusion:

    President-elect Joe Biden has an opportunity to send a clear message to civilians caught in conflict that America cares about their fate.

    The United States has long been out of step with its allies and the broader global consensus to ban landmines and cluster munitions. The Biden Administration can reset U.S. policy and finally join the Mine Ban Treaty and Convention on Cluster Munitions. Further, the Administration should fully support the diplomatic process towards an international agreement against bombing in populated areas.

    Cluster munitions have recently been used in the Azerbaijan-Armenia war. Landmines still cause around 6,000 casualties annually. These two indiscriminate weapons remain a clear danger to civilians. 123 States have joined the Oslo Convention that bans cluster munitions, and 164 States are parties to the Ottawa treaty banning anti-personnel landmines. Meanwhile, the use of heavy explosive weapons in urban areas has become common in modern conflict, with civilians making up 90% of the victims.

    The Biden Administration should quickly ​recommit ​to its campaign pledge to limit using antipersonnel landmines ​except in Korea, announce an intention to eventually stop using or transferring landmines, forswear use of cluster munitions, and commit to the diplomatic process that will lead to an international agreement against heavy bombing in populated areas. We hope the administration will eventually ratify the Ottawa Treaty, completely banning the use of anti-personnel landmines.

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    Image: A man conducts mine clearance in Lebanon in 2018 as part of a project funded by the United States Arms Removal and Reduction Office and the U.S. Department of State.


  • Colombia | Demining team trains in preparation of 2021

    Ravaged by 50 years of armed conflict, Colombia is the world’s second-most densely mined country, just behind Afghanistan. Mines and explosive remnants of war contaminate land in 31 of Colombia's 32 regions.

    In May 2016, the Colombian government granted Humanity & Inclusion full authorization—one of two organizations with this status—to conduct mine clearance operations in three of the country’s regions, as part of the new peace agreements between the government and Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC). Since then, Humanity & Inclusion launched a mine clearance operation, with a specific focus on indigenous land, in the regions of Cauca, Meta, and Caquetá. 

    Members of Humanity & Inclusion's demining team serving the Meta communities recently underwent an operational training so they can return recharged in 2021. Thanks to the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Embassy in Colombia and individual donors all over the world for protecting paths of civilians. Are you interested in supporting Humanity & Inclusion's work to clear weapons? Donate today.

    Check out these photos of the demining and first aid training exercises in Colombia:

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    Are you interested in supporting Humanity & Inclusion's work to clear weapons? Donate today.

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  • Report: Humanity & Inclusion's Response to Covid-19

    Introduction

    When Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic in March 2020, Humanity & Inclusion mobilized its teams to help the most vulnerable people affected by the crisis. Providing emergency response in almost all the countries where Humanity & Inclusion works has been a major challenge, especially since its emergency teams are normally able to focus their efforts on a handful of countries or regions. Humanity & Inclusion therefore provided emergency response and adapted its routine projects to help all those in need.

    As of December 2020, more than 65 million people worldwide have been infected with Covid-19 and more than 1.5 million people have died.

    While the epidemic has hit Western countries extremely hard, it is also affecting many countries in Asia, the Middle East, South and Central America and Africa, which are already affected by violent conflicts, political and socio-economic crises, frequent natural disasters, and significant climate change. Thousands of people need assistance.

    In response to the Covid-19 crisis, Humanity & Inclusion has:

    • Provided response in 46 of the 50 countries where it works;
    • Implemented more than 160 projects in aid of people affected by the Covid-19 crisis;
    • Given assistance to more than 2 million people between March and August 2020 alone;
    • Provided more than 1.6 million people with information on Covid-19 prevention measures;
    • Distributed more than 138,000 hygiene kits containing hand sanitizer, soaps, and other items;
    • Distributed more than 800,000 masks;
    • Provided food to more than 6,800 vulnerable families;
    • Organized thousands of psychosocial support sessions for people who feel insecure or traumatized as a result of the crisis;
    • Conducted thousands of tele-rehabilitation sessions in countries where a strict lockdown has been imposed to continue providing its routine services to people in need.

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    Beyond its impact on health, Covid-19 has had a considerable effect on children’s education. According to a Unesco report, some 1.6 billion children and teenagers have been deprived of school education in 190 countries as a result of the pandemic. The situation is even more worrying for children with disabilities, who find it harder to access education.

    This pandemic has also considerably increased poverty and food insecurity. People in 25 countries are expected to face devastating levels of hunger in the coming months due to the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. The number of acute food insecure people could increase from 149 million before the pandemic to 270 million.

    Identifying the needs of the most vulnerable people

    Humanity & Inclusion's teams and volunteers trained by the organization have identified the needs of the most vulnerable people including older people, single women with children, people with disabilities, migrant populations, and refugees. Those with the greatest needs are receiving direct assistance such as awareness sessions, distribution of hygiene kits, food assistance, cash transfers, and psychosocial support, or referrals to an organization that can offer them appropriate care, including healthcare for those infected with Covid-19.

    New mothers wearing masks receive health consultations and hygiene kits in Togo

    Leading awareness-raising sessions

    More than 1.6 million people affected by the pandemic have taken part in awareness sessions in villages and communities in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, South America and the Caribbean, and at home. Humanity & Inclusion has provided people with information on Covid-19, including the risk of transmission and prevention measures, through group meetings in villages, refugee camps, and the like; one-on-one sessions; and awareness campaigns based on leaflets, posters, and other materials. The organization has also aired programs on radio and TV. For example, in Nepal, Humanity & Inclusion has produced videos with subtitles and in sign language adapted to people with hearing difficulties, in partnership with the World Health Organization, which have been aired on Nepalese television.

    Offering psychosocial support

    Humanity & Inclusion has provided psychosocial support to people affected by the pandemic and the trauma it has caused, from economic hardships to loss of family and friends. More than 225,000 people received psychosocial support, including by telephone, from Humanity & Inclusion. The organization has also provided support to medical staff who are on the front line.

    A masked worker distributes food in Bolivia.

    Distributing hygiene items, food, and cash

    Humanity & Inclusion has distributed more than 138,000 hygiene kits composed of hand sanitizer, soaps, cleaning supplies, and the like. More than 800,000 masks have also been provided to people who need them.

    In many countries, the food supply chain has been disrupted by border closures and lockdown measures. In Bolivia, especially, it is more complicated to access food in cities. Price inflation has soared and many people, who have lost their jobs, have found it more difficult to access food. Humanity & Inclusion has provided food assistance to more than 6,800 families by distributing goods, cash transfers, non-perishable foods, fresh produce from partner organizations, and so on.

    Humanity & Inclusion has also identified people living in situations of extreme vulnerability, including refugees and families living in extreme poverty, and provided them with cash transfers to access basic services and meet their basic needs such as paying rent, buying food, and going to the doctor. So far, 7,565 families have received cash transfers from Humanity & Inclusion.

    Transporting humanitarian supplies

    The measures put in place to combat the spread of Covid-19 have entrenched humanitarian crises and made it harder to implement humanitarian aid projects. Faced with the difficulties of transporting humanitarian supplies and mobility issues caused by lockdowns, quarantines and other restrictions, Humanity & Inclusion, through its logistics department, has shifted the focus of its operations in Central African Republic, Bangladesh and Mali. News projects were also implemented in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Haiti for the transport and shared storage of health and humanitarian equipment, the repair of airport runways and roads to isolated health centers, and the like.

    Humanity & Inclusion has also mobilized three experts from the Réseau Logistique Humanitaire (RLH) to coordinate airlifts to 12 countries. More than 141,000 cubic feet of emergency supplies and 1,200 humanitarian and medical staff were transported as part of this operation.

    A young boy in a wheelchair continues to receive rehabilitation in Colombia during the pandemic.

    Conducting tele-rehabilitation sessions

    Humanity & Inclusion continued providing rehabilitation care to patients who need it by adapting its working methods to the Covid-19 pandemic. Where the situation allowed, physical therapists continued to provide care in rehabilitation centers in compliance with safety rules such as social distancing and mask-wearing.

    In countries where lockdowns were imposed, online tele-rehabilitation sessions have enabled thousands of patients to continue doing their physical therapy exercises at home by watching videos or receiving instructions via telephone, WhatsApp, and other technology. Humanity & Inclusion has organized thousands of tele-rehabilitation sessions in Nepal, for example, and developed virtual rehabilitation apps in Rwanda and Vietnam.

    Promoting safety and inclusion

    Humanity & Inclusion referred more than 470 people with the greatest protection needs, such as single women, isolated children, and refugees to specialized organizations able to offer them appropriate support.

    Lastly, Humanity & Inclusion’s teams trained 201 staff from partner humanitarian organizations to include the most vulnerable people such as people with disabilities, isolated women, and older people in activities organized for victims of the Covid-19 crisis. The aim is to ensure that no one is left behind.

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  • Madagascar | Raising awareness of Covid-19

    Madagascans with disabilities are highly vulnerability to the pandemic. Humanity & Inclusion has adapted many of its projects in Madagascar to assist them.

    The Covid-19 pandemic has not spared the people of Madagascar. The country has gone into lockdown several times since March 2020, when the government declared a national health emergency.

    “It's important to help people with disabilities and all of the beneficiaries of Humanity & Inclusion's projects get through this unprecedented health, social and economic crisis," explains Emilie Sauvanet, Humanity & Inclusion's program director in Madagascar. "Our teams have revised each of their projects and the way activities interact with each other in order to get as close as possible to the people we assist."

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    One of those people is Offrancia, who has had epilepsy since she was 10. Humanity & Inclusion began working with Offrancia, now 38, in 2019, providing personalized social support for Offrancia to receive medical care, financial assistance to secure the future of her medical treatment, and psychosocial assistance.

    As a small business owner, Offrancia faced an economic crisis when Covid-19 hit. Humanity & Inclusion provided Offrancia and her family hygiene and protection kits and shared information on the virus and how to prevent its spread. Like 335 other families, Offrancia's family also received two cash transfers of 100,000 Ariary, the local currency – equivalent to approximately $25 – to help make ends meet.

    "Part of the money was very useful to buy food, and medicine for my treatment, and I diversified my merchandise stock with the rest," explains Offrancia, who has since reopened her business.

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    Humanity & Inclusion has also trained 33 people from disability advocacy organizations to help inform people with disabilities on ways to protect themselves during the pandemic. So far, they have made at-home visits to more than 1,000 vulnerable families in the Atsinanana and Analanjirofo regions.

    Onisoa, a sign language interpreter and trainer at an inclusive school in Atsinanana, is among those conducting at-home visits.

    "Awareness-raising is a particularly effective way to reach the most vulnerable families, including the families of people with disabilities," says Onisoa. "This method allows us to talk with their relatives or guardians, to understand their living conditions, and to provide them with advice on personal protective measures. Some visits take longer, especially for people with sensory disabilities. But we're convinced we're on the right track."

    Norbertin, a father of two, works on Onisoa's team. “Although I am visually impaired, I am healthy and I want to help my fellow citizens by ensuring they take Covid-19 seriously,” he says.

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    Header image: A woman stands over a table of produce at her small business in Madagascar. She is wearing a mask.
    Inline image: A woman speaks with a group of four people who sit on the grass. She is sharing information about Covid-19. They are all wearing masks.

  • Democratic Republic of the Congo | After overcoming polio, Trésor aspires to be a doctor

    Trésor calls his brace “libende,” which means “piece of iron” in the Lingala language. Trésor is fond of the brace, which has helped him live a normal life after he contracted polio when he was 3. He’s 12 now.

    One of nine children, Trésor and his family live among the sprawling suburbs of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where Trésor’s mother sells biscuits on the side of the road.

    When Trésor was 3, he came down with a bad fever and his parents rushed him to the hospital.

    “I remember when my little brother got polio like it was yesterday,” said Nsumbu-Mateka, Trésor’s older brother. “It wasn’t long before we realized Trésor would never regain the use of his left leg. We were so shocked. He couldn't play or run around like before. Our parents were really unhappy about it but there was nothing they could do.”

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    After Trésor lost use of his leg and his ability to walk, Nsumbu-Mateka saw that he wasn’t able to participate in every day activities.

    "There are a lot of people like my brother around here, but unfortunately most never leave home,” Nsumbu-Mateka explained. “The children don’t go to school. They can’t move around, and in some ways, they’re excluded from the community."

    Wanting better for his younger brother, Nsumbu-Mateka began looking into educational opportunities for Trésor. He learned of a school in their neighborhood that accepts children with disabilities. Thanks to his brother’s advocacy, Trésor attended his first day of school when he was 9. That’s where Trésor met Humanity & Inclusion’s team, which works to promote school enrollment for children with disabilities.

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    Through its inclusive education project, Humanity & Inclusion ensures that schools are accessible for children with reduced mobility, trains teachers to adapt their lessons for students with disabilities, and works to provide individual support to children with disabilities.

    Trésor was one of those children. Humanity & Inclusion arranged for Trésor to visit a local orthopedic center, where he received a pair of crutches, a brace, and a custom-made orthopedic shoe. Through donor support, Humanity & Inclusion continues to work with Trésor, providing the growing boy on average two new braces each year.

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    Now, with his “libende” and crutches, Trésor walks 45 minutes to school each day. He particularly loves calculus and French, and dreams of becoming a doctor one day so he can care for others. His classmates are amazed by his willpower and happy to call him their friend.

    Trésor loves spending time with his family, especially his brother, Nsumbu-Mateka. He plays games and draws cartoons. But most of all, Trésor enjoys paying a few cents to rent a bike and showing the other children that he can ride a bike, just like them.

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    First photo: A young boy named Trésor crouches down while playing a game with bottle caps outside his home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has a big smile. He is wearing a bright blue plaid shirt, jeans, blue and black tennis shoes, and a brace on his left leg.
    Second photo: Trésor sits on a table and has his foot measured during a consultation with Humanity & Inclusion staff. His is wearing a white shirt and shorts. He is barefoot. 
    Third photo: Trésor sits in a chair, holding a yellow soccer ball. He has a big smile. He is wearing a bright blue plaid shirt, jeans, blue and black tennis shoes, and a brace on his left leg. His crutches are leaning on the wall beside him.

     


  • Covid-19 | HI assists Venezuelan refugees in Colombia amid pandemic

    Fleeing economic hardship and political unrest in their home country, 4 million Venezuelan refugees escaped to Colombia. Without jobs, housing, or support systems, the refugees have faced additional challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Humanity & Inclusion is providing support – from financial aid to hygiene kits – to hundreds of Venezuelan refugees living in Colombia, where 1 million people have contracted the virus.

    More than 200 Venezuelan refugee families are receiving regular financial assistance from Humanity & Inclusion to pay for housing, food, healthcare and other basic needs. Milagros Chacin was able to use cash provided by Humanity & Inclusion to catch up on rent payments and buy mattresses for her children so they don’t have to sleep on the floor of their makeshift home.

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    Humanity & Inclusion has also handed out food and hygiene kits containing items like soap and hand sanitizer. To dispel misinformation about the virus, Humanity & Inclusion has conducted awareness sessions on Covid-19. Humanity & Inclusion’s team has also translated 12 videos into Venezuelan and Colombian sign language to share prevention measures, Covid-19 symptoms, and other essential information with some of the most vulnerable people.

    In addition to help Venezuelan refugees, Humanity & Inclusion is also helping indigenous people cope with the pandemic. “Many indigenous communities are still in full lockdown, or can no longer work or earn money, so our food distributions are extremely welcome,” said Debir Valdelamar, Deputy Project Officer for Humanity & Inclusion in Colombia.

    Humanity & Inclusion continues to provide psychological support and rehabilitation care to mine victims in the regions of Cauca, Meta, Antioquia, Caqueta, and Nariño.

    Humanity & Inclusion's response in Colombia since March

    • In April 2020, Humanity & Inclusion distributed 80 food kits, one per family, to people living in the regions of Cauca and Nariño, and more than 200 hygiene kits.
    • Humanity & Inclusion has trained members of national NGOs to include people with disabilities in their projects.
    • Humanity & Inclusion has conducted awareness sessions on Covid-19, and translated 12 informational videos and a prevention guide into Venezuelan and Colombian sign language
    • Humanity & Inclusion has provided remote psychological support to more than 150 Venezuelan refugees in the Maicao refugee centre in northern Colombia, and to people arriving in the cities of Bogota, Medellín, and Baranquilla. Humanity & Inclusion psychologists held Whatsapp sessions with those who needed them.
    • Humanity & Inclusion has enabled 112 Venezuelan refugee families identified by a "vulnerability" survey to benefit from a small, one-off cash transfer.
    • Humanity & Inclusion organized a series of virtual conferences on psychological first aid for caregivers and family members of people with disabilities.


    Photo caption: A Venezuelan refugee sits in a wheelchair at a migrant reception center in northern Colombia.