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Jolie and Lydia, two refugee sisters supported by HI


Jolie and Lydia’s family fled the DRC and sought refuge in the Kalobeyei camp in Kenya. Jolie and Lydia both have physical and intellectual disabilities and are being supported by Humanity & Inclusion's team.

Lydia and Jolie with their big sister, Armele.

Lydia and Jolie with their big sister, Armele. | © E. Sellers / HI

Humanity & Inclusion (HI) runs inclusive projects in support of people with disabilities living in Kalobeyei camp. Lydia, aged 10, lives with paralysis and other disabilities caused by hydrocephalus. Whereas Jolie, aged 6, has cerebral palsy. Thanks to HI, they are both receiving rehabilitation sessions.

A family in difficulty

Lydia and Jolie’s family fled the DRC and sought refuge in the Kalobeyei refugee camp in Kenya.  The girls have six siblings. Jolie has difficulty walking and talking, but Lydia's health is even more fragile.Armele helps her sister, Lydia, into the specially-adapted wheelchair provided for her by HI.

"When we arrived in Kalobeyei, we looked for a place to get help," explains Armele, Jolie and Lydia's sister. "We were told to go to the HI rehabilitation center. Now, Lydia and Jolie have rehabilitation sessions four times a week."

Home-based therapy

To get to their rehabilitation sessions, Jolie and Lydia had to walk for 45 minutes in the desert. So when the two sisters began to show signs of improvement, the HI specialists decided to organize home-based rehabilitation sessions for them.

HI trained physical therapists and community rehabilitation workers in home rehabilitation techniques. Now, these rehabilitation specialists visit the girls at home two to three times a week to massage their muscles and take them through their exercises.

Valuable help for Lydia and Jolie’s mother

In addition to the rehabilitation sessions, HI is supporting the girls' mother to set up her business. She has been given a grant to stock her clothing store in the village. Thanks to the increase in her income, Lydia and Jolie's mother can provide for her eight children better. For example, she has been able to buy a new mattress so they can sleep more comfortably.

The rest of the family is receiving psychosocial support to help them look after their sisters.

Encouraging progress

Jolie has been given a walker to help her walk long distances. The specialists are still working on her balance. Now that she can walk on her own, she has been enrolled in school. Today, Jolie likes to run and sing.

"Jolie has come a long way," says Armele. "She was dependent on a caregiver for all her daily activities until she started the rehabilitation program. Now she can talk, get around and go to school."

Lydia's disability is more severe, but her family has seen improvements in her movements and behavior. She is delighted when Armele picks her up and puts her in her special wheelchair. The wheelchair supports her posture and allows her to get out of the house.

“HI helps us a lot. We are one big family”, concludes Armele.

These activities are made possible by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Populations, Refugees, and Migration.

Date published: 09/20/22


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