On World Refugee Day, we share the story of Rashid, a four-year-old child with a disability who has lived in a refugee camp almost all his life.
Life has a refugee child
In the Kivu region of DR Congo, Julienne, Rashid's mother, soon noticed that her son had difficulty walking at 18 months old.
"I noticed that Rashid had a problem when he started walking. He didn't walk like the other children. I can't explain where this comes from because nobody in the family has the same problem," says Julienne.
Rashid's family then made the decision to flee the violence and fighting in north-eastern Congo in February 2018. They took refuge in Kakuma camp in Kenya. There, the other children made fun of Rashid because of his disability. He could not play with them and felt excluded.
"The other children rejected him and made fun of him," explains Julienne.
Rashid's new life
Soon, Humanity & Inclusion's (HI) rehabilitation team in Kakuma camp diagnosed Rashid as having an disability affecting his knees. In September 2021, the little boy underwent surgery on one of his legs at the Kakuma Mission Hospital, which works in collaboration with HI. The operation was successful, enabling his other leg to be operated on too.
After several months with his legs in a cast, Rashid is now walking without any problems. He is still supported with muscle strengthening and mobility exercises.
"I'm very happy to stand up without the other kids making fun of me," says Rashid.
Julienne, his mother, is also very happy to see her son’s progress. Rashid is back at Shambela Primary School and has made many friends. He is very popular with his teachers, who find him friendly and lively.
About Kakuma refugee camp
Located in Turkana County, north-western Kenya, Kakuma refugee camp was established in 1992. It hosts over 200,000 refugees from 13 different countries. Over 40% of the refugees are South Sudanese and over 30% are Somalis.
HI assists over 15,000 people in Kakuma camp. Our teams provide rehabilitation, mental health and psychosocial support. We also run a child protection program, as a refugee camp can be a difficult environment with high levels of crime.
These activities are made possible by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).