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Fatoumata wants to continue school at all costs

Burkina Faso

Fatoumata is a 15-year-old girl who has a disability and currently lives in a refugee camp. Despite many obstacles, she wants to continue school.

Fatoumata and her grandfather in front of their shelter in Windou, Burkina Faso.

Fatoumata and her grandfather in front of their shelter in Windou, Burkina Faso. | © Dipama Yamba / HI

On the occasion of the International Day of Education, on January 24th, HI reports on difficulties encountered by children with disabilities in accessing education in areas torn apart by crisis.

Fatoumata is a 15-year-old girl who is living with a paralyzed left foot. Originally from a village in the North of Burkina Faso, she and her family fled following attacks by armed groups. They are now living in camps for displaced people in Dori. These circumstances have had a major impact on the young girl's education.

Difficulties and dangers

In Goudebo, Fatoumata was enrolled in the village school following a massive campaign to register girls for school. She now goes to the elementary school in Windou but faces many dangers.

As a young female, she is often exposed to sexual abuse and harassment – which is unfortunately common in situations of massive population displacement. Fatoumata feels scared when she is moving between the site and the school. She fears meeting strangers or having an accident with her bicycle (The bicycle was donated by HI).

As her family is living in poverty, she is also exposed to early or forced marriage, a recurrent practice in the area.

Fatoumata has difficulty getting around in her family’s site, as some of the ramps providing access to the dormitories have deteriorated.

When she fled her village in a rush, she also left her shoes adapted to her disability, so walking is much more difficult for her now.

Humanitarian needs skyrocketed in Burkina Faso in recent years with 25% of the people in need of aid. Many people are displaced from their homes within the country by sporadic violence. The number of severely food-insecure people sharply increased and one million children were driven out of school.1


The family’s hope

Fatoumata has received food assistance and health support from HI. She also received school supplies - such as notebooks, pencils, a math kit, a solar lamp - a post-radio, and a bicycle adapted to her disability. This aid has greatly improved her ability to get around and go to school, enabling her to pursue her education.

Fatoumata's family encourages her to continue her studies. The teenager is a very serious student, passing her grade with an excellent average grade. Out of 17 pupils, Fatoumata ranked 7th. She is among the best pupils!

Fatoumata dreams of becoming a teacher one day and aspires to be called "Miss" by her pupils.

HI published the report entitled "Always Included: Uninterrupted education for children with disabilities before, during and after a crisis". This article comes from this report. The report describes how the education of children is interrupted by crises based on case studies in Burkina Faso, Palestine, and Madagascar. Globally, 72 million children are out of school due to emergencies and protracted crises, with 17% of them being children with disabilities. In West and Central Africa, more than 13,250 schools have closed, affecting 6,150 schools in Burkina Faso. In Madagascar, floods and cyclones have devastating effects on education continuity, destroying learning materials and infrastructure.


Date published: 01/24/24


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