Equipped with a specially adapted wheelchair by Humanity & Inclusion, Daïsane is more independent and can play with her classmates at recess.
Daïsane, 10, lives in Lemba, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Born with club feet, she underwent several unsuccessful surgeries and finds it almost impossible to walk. After coming in contact with HI in 2021, Daïsane has been equipped with a number of assistive devices to help her thrive.
At school, she was given a wheeled chair with a small desk and a footrest to support her ankles. She also has a new wheelchair to move around at home and make the trip to school.
A caring big sister
Daïsane’s older sister, Vasli, 27, is a law student and an active member of her community. Vasli explains that, before she received her wheelchair, Daïsane used to move around by using her hands to drag herself along the floor.
“When she got her wheelchair a few weeks ago, she was grinning from ear to ear,” Vasli says. “Her face lit up.”
At last, Daïsane could finally move around by herself ─ in the courtyard in front of her home, on the road to school, and on the playground.
“Before, we paid for a motorcycle taxi to take Daïsane to school,” Vasli explains. “It was quite expensive, but now she can go in her wheelchair. It takes us about an hour each way, but it saves money.”
Daïsane loves to play cards with her sister, but her real passion is drawing – especially different kinds of clothes. In fact, her mind’s already made up: she’s going to be a fashion designer one day!
A changing education landscape
Once she arrives at school, the concrete pavements laid by HI make it easier for Daïsane to get to class. As part of its support to her inclusive school, HI has also equipped the classrooms with wider and lower chalkboards so everyone can use them. The teachers have also been trained to tutor students with special needs.
In 2019, the Democratic Republic of the Congo made education free for all. Previously, parents had to pay to enroll their children in school, and schools used this money to pay their teachers. Now, teachers’ wages are funded by the government in most state schools and it is also directly responsible for their facilities.
The new system has made education more accessible to students, but it also comes with its challenges.
For instance, two years ago, the school that Daïsane attends had 600 students. Now, enrollment has risen to 1,100 children. Some teachers have 60 children in their classes. The school receives just $35 a month for maintenance, supplies, and equipment.
Despite the larger class sizes, Daïsane’s teacher, Mrs. Agnès, says she has made good progress.
“The wheelchair means she can leave the classroom and play outside,” Mrs. Agnès says. “She doesn’t have to stay inside by herself like she did before.”
Mrs. Agnès enthusiastically describes how she makes sure Daïsane is fully included in lessons and puts her in the front row at the start of each class. She also helps her move from her wheelchair to a small, specially adapted table. This means Daïsane can write and follow the lesson without having to make an extra effort. Her favorite subject? Math!
Daïsane is now fully engaged in class and plays with her friends at recess. She feels part of the school and can move around on her own with dignity.