Every day, Mohammed, a community outreach volunteer for Humanity & Inclusion, rides his motorbike through the neighborhoods of Timbuktu, Mali, in search of children with disabilities who do not attend school. In Mali, as in many developing countries, parents often keep children with disabilities at home.
Mohammed is one of four community volunteers working with Humanity & Inclusion’s inclusive education project in Timbuktu. The volunteers meet with community and religious leaders and parents to find children with disabilities who, with support services like rehabilitation, could go to school.
Once a child has been identified, a series of meetings are organized with their parents. A big part of a volunteer’s job is convincing parents that their child can go to school. Due to a lack of awareness about disabilities, many parents are unprepared to raise children with disabilities and may question their potential.
"Thanks to our awareness raising campaigns,” says Mohammed, “people have started to understand that they need to allow these children to leave their homes.”
To ensure children are able to go to school, Mohammed and the other volunteers are trained to make a disability assessment of each child and to compile a list of their needs. If necessary, the children are connected to medical facilities where they can access physical therapy and other services free of charge. Humanity & Inclusion places children in schools where teachers have been trained to work with special needs students.
During the months that follow the first identification, Mohammed continues to pay regular visits to the children and their families to note their process in school. Since summer 2016, 129 children with disabilities from Timbuktu have been sent to primary schools with the support of HI.