A boy and HI staffer sit with three adults on a blanket laid over the ground

Mahamat finally goes to school

At the Kousseri displacement site on Lake Chad, Humanity & Inclusion ensures that 13-year-old Mahamat’s disability will not stop him from getting an education.

When he was a toddler Mahamat developed an illness that still affects him today—causing weakness in his legs and requiring him to use a crutch for support. The 13-year-old boy lives with his grandmother in a community that is home to more than 7,000 internally displaced people, many of whom have fled violence or climate-related crises.

Last year, Mahamat was enrolled in school for the first time through Humanity & Inclusion’s project focused on the protection and schooling of children in the Lake region. In the 2022-23 school year, more than 7,500 children were enrolled in the project. Among them were 113 children with disabilities. Funded by the European Union, this project is part of HI's ongoing initiative to improve access to education for children impacted by the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

HI provides school supplies to support inclusive education. Once he was enrolled in school, Mahamat received a school bag, slate, and chalk from HI.

"One day, I saw other children coming back from school with backpacks. They showed me the school materials inside. I asked them where they got all this stuff, and they showed me the way to the school,” Mahamat recalls. “They told me that we would go back to school the next day, and the day after that, too. I was very happy!"

HI’s mobile team identified other needs for Mahamat. He receives food support and medical care. A new pair of crutches help him walk the long journey to school more easily, so he can have more energy to concentrate on his learning.

“When I grow up, I would like to pass on my knowledge and teach at the Koranic school, and at the same time raise goats and become a rich merchant to support my family,” Mahamat says. “And for that, I know I need to go to school."

A community effort

At the beginning of each school year HI trains and mobilizes community leaders to be part of an awareness committee. This committee goes door-to-door speaking to families and encouraging them to enroll their children in school.

To promote inclusive education, teachers undergo a three-week training at the beginning of the school year, provided by education officers, psychosocial support protection officers, the HI project manager, and primary education pedagogical inspectors.

This training covers topics such as stress management, psychological first aid, hygiene and sanitation, and inclusive techniques for teaching children with disabilities. Accessibility and inclusion are addressed in a transversal way in all the modules, allowing teachers to take better care of students with disabilities while giving them tools to raise awareness among other children and allow a protective and inclusive educational environment for all.

So far, 126 teachers from 12 schools have completed the training. Mahamat’s teacher is one of them.

"In the classroom, the teacher puts me in the front row so that I can follow the lesson well,” Mahamat explains. “He often asks me questions, so I feel at ease.”

HI in Chad

Humanity & Inclusion has been present in Chad since the 1990s in the sectors of inclusive and emergency education, mine action, victim assistance, peace-building, physical and functional rehabilitation, and the socio-economic inclusion of people with disabilities.