When I first met Abul, he was making the finishing touches on a beautiful headboard, sanding down the edges to ensure the finishing was smooth. Prior to working at a carpentry shop in Sitakunda Upazila, a sub-district in rural Bangladesh, Abul spent two hours each day commuting on public transportation to a carpentry shop where he worked as a carpenter.Read more
Child refugees will enjoy inclusive playgrounds thanks to new Handicap International and IKEA Foundation partnership
Growing up in a refugee camp is incredibly difficult, especially if you're a child with a disability. Play is a fundamental right for all children, including refugees. That’s why the IKEA Foundation is supporting Growing Together, a new Handicap International project that gives displaced children in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Thailand the right to be a child.
Handicap International is one of six partners for the new Let's Play for Change campaign, which begins on Children’s Rights Day, Nov. 20. For every children’s book and toy sold in IKEA stores between today and Dec. 24, the IKEA Foundation will donate $1 to support children’s right to play.
“Sadly, many refugee children don’t have the opportunity to be a child,” says Cheryl Shin-Hua Yeam, Handicap International’s regional technical coordinator of the new Growing Together project. "Their right to play is often undermined or not prioritized,” even though the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that every child should have the right to play.
Play is incredibly important. "Play makes children happy and healthy," Cheryl adds. "It allows them to learn, improves their self-esteem, and helps them to develop important life skills such as empathy, communication, and resilience to stress.”
Handicap International’s Growing Together project directly addresses this pressing issue. Over a four-year period, the project, financed by the IKEA Foundation, will empower children seeking refuge in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Thailand. Staff will create inclusive playgrounds, where vulnerable refugee children can feel safe and develop through an approach that is natural to them: play.
“This will promote their well being and help their personal development to flourish,” Cheryl adds. “Child friendly spaces give refugee children the opportunity to share traumatizing experiences with a professional as well as with each other. Children feel safe. They can relax, smile, play, and just be a child again - essential elements for their mental and physical health.”
Play also helps refugee children address their reality in a productive manner. ”For refugee children, play is a basic need,” Cheryl says. ”What’s more, play is an important tool for them to deal with their difficult situation. Because being a child in a refugee camp doesn’t come easy. Having fled war and violence, refugee children have to deal with difficult backgrounds and face poor living conditions. Play can help them to work through some of their issues and to be a child.”
In Mae La Refugee Camp (Thailand), 40,000 refugees share just one soccer field. “We have no place to play,” says Eike, a ten-year-old who lives in the camp. “We play around the house or around the nearby temple, but that’s far from ideal. And we have no toys.”
Children with disabilities even more excluded from play
According to research from the IKEA Foundation, the funding partner of the Growing Together project, children with mental and physical disabilities are often the most likely to be excluded from play and learning activities. Handicap International, which has been working in refugee camps for 30 years, confirms this. “You don’t see children with disabilities play,” Cheryl says.
“Our safe spaces will be accessible and inclusive so that children of all kinds can come together and learn together: children with and without disabilities, children with learning disorders, mental problems, children who are chronically ill, so on.”
In Mae La Camp in Thailand, on the border of Myanmar, there’s one football field for 40,000 refugees. The narrow steep paths, filled with holes and loose rocks, make it extremely hard for children with disabilities to find a place to play.
The Growing Together project runs for four years, and will empower 13,000 vulnerable boys and girls (0-18 years old) and their families in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Thailand.
Besides the creation of inclusive, educational playgrounds, the project will also pay attention to the youngest children who are at risk of developmental delays. Thanks to early detection and rehabilitation, some disabilities can be prevented, and the lives of children with long-term disabilities can be made more fulfilling. In a safe environment, parents and caregivers will learn how they can support their child to develop and be more independent.
At the same time, the project will engage with local child development service providers to be more responsive to the needs of disabled and vulnerable children, and it will help these organizations implement measures to facilitate the inclusion of these children in schools and communities. The collaboration with local organizations will help ensure the sustainability of the project.
WHERE: FORGOTTEN REFUGEE CAMPS
The refugee camps in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Thailand remain largely forgotten by the world, despite their decades-old existence. Living conditions in the camps are alarming. In Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world, stateless Rohingya refugees struggle to survive, while living in squalid conditions, vulnerable to disease and exploitation. They are categorically denied legal protection and humanitarian assistance. In the Jalozai refugee camp in Pakistan, people face harsh weather conditions, children suffer from poor health, and many people are depressed since they have little to do but stand in line for food distributions. Depression is also very common in the Karen refugee camps in Thailand (Myanmar border), where an estimated 111,000 people rely heavily on humanitarian assistance. Many people were born in the camps and have never set foot outside.
HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL’S EXPERIENCE
Thanks to its work in refugee camps all over the world, Handicap International brings a wealth of experience to the Growing Together project and an extensive knowledge of the region.
Handicap International was founded in Thailand in 1982, to help Cambodian refugees that were injured by landmines. Two years later, our work expanded along the border with Myanmar. In Pakistan since the early 1980s, Handicap International first supported Afghan refugees – today, our work involves helping people who are vulnerable to natural and human disasters. Handicap International has been present in Bangladesh since 1997. Our past actions are an excellent starting point for the Growing Together project: providing community-based rehabilitation, empowering people with disabilities, and supporting their inclusion in local communities.
Also, play has always been an important element in our rehabilitation approach, for it stimulates children to do their exercises and helps them to improve their strength, flexibility, motor skills, and mobility.
FINANCED BY IKEA FOUNDATION
The Growing Together project is financed by IKEA Foundation (the philanthropic arm of INGKA Foundation, the owner of the IKEA Group of companies), and supported by IKEA’s new good cause campaign: Let’s Play for Change. For every children’s book and toy sold in an IKEA store between November 20 and December 24, 2016, the IKEA Foundation will donate €1 to support the Growing Together project and the projects of five other partner organizations.
More info: www.ikeafoundation.org
Removing Barriers (2018)
With support from the Australian Government, this study was carried out between October 2017 and January 2018, in areas with high concentrations of Syrian refugees such as Bekaa and Baalbek-Hermel governorates of Lebanon; and Azraq and Zaatari refugee camps, as well as Irbid in Jordan. We reached 1,665 households, including 1,159 (6,381 people) in Jordan and 506 (2,495 people) in Lebanon. Participants were randomly selected to join the study. The following fact sheets are available:
- Demographics and disability
- Access to services
Study Data can be accessed on the Project Dashboard: https://re.tc/disability_dashboards
This policy paper defines the themes of inclusive disaster risk reduction and explains how these activities fit into our mandate. It also identifies the target population and defines modalities of intervention–standard expected outcomes, standard activities–as well as monitoring and evaluation indicators.
This report is based on the results of a global consultation carried out in 2015, as a contribution to the World Humanitarian Summit and is intended to better identify the changes needed for a disability-inclusive humanitarian response. A total of 769 responses were collected through three online surveys targeting persons with disabilities, disabled people's organizations and humanitarian actors.
The responses show that persons with disabilities are strongly impacted when a crisis occurs: 54% of respondents with disabilities state they have experienced a direct physical impact, sometimes causing new impairments. 27% report that they have been psychologically, physically or sexually abused. Increased psychological stress and/or disorientation are other effects of the crisis for 38% of the respondents with disabilities. To read the full study, click here.
Syria: Equal Access Monitor examines durable solutions for Syrians with specific needs (with HelpAge)
Durable solutions – including local integration and resettlement - have the potential to transform the lives of individual refugees and their families, particularly those with specific needs whether due to disability or old age. Moreover, resettlement is a crucial way that “third countries” can stand in solidarity and assist the countries that are currently bearing the brunt of the economic and infrastructural demands of sheltering the refugees fleeing the ongoing war in Syria.
The disaster response environment in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake represented a complex healthcare challenge. This study was designed to identify challenges during the Haiti disaster response.
This literature review examines epidemiological studies reporting data on spinal cord injury survivors of the 2005 Kashmir earthquake in Pakistan, the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China, and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
Inclusion of persons with disabilities and the most vulnerable people in emergency response must be considered a core component of principled and effective humanitarian action. Field experience and observations indicate that persons with disabilities and most vulnerable people are often neglected in the contingency planning, assessment, collection of data, design and delivery of humanitarian relief, making them ‘invisible’ to relief operations.
Older, disabled, and injured Syrian refugees are being doubly victimized as a result of the Syria conflict, according to a new report by Humanity & Inclusion and HelpAge International. The new data show that these vulnerable individuals, as well as those suffering from chronic diseases, are being left in the shadows of the humanitarian responses. View report here.
This manual provides guidance on the design and building of barrier-free emergency shelters that are used within a community following a natural disaster, such as a flood or landslide. View report here.
This manual is intended to build actors' capacities to mainstream disability in disaster risk reduction. View report here.
This publication provides practical ideas and concrete knowledge to include disability issues in disaster management. Although it is based on floods, ideas can be adapted to any type of disaster. View report here.
In Bangladesh, Humanity & Inclusion continues to run programs under the operating name "Handicap International."
The Rohingya Emergency
As of May 2019, more than 909,000 Rohingya refugees—including more than 400,000 children—reside in Bangladesh. They are in desperate need of basic aid, psychosocial support, and rehabilitation care. Humanity & Inclusion has more than 200 staff on the ground, working to support the most vulnerable, including people with disabilities.
Help ensure critical aid reaches families who have fled with nothing.
Humanity & Inclusion in Bangladesh
Humanity & Inclusion has been working to advance the long-term rights and social inclusion of people with disabilities in Bangladesh for more than 20 years.
Bangladesh is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. In 2011, the country's population was 150.5 million with 15% living with a disability and 49.6% living on less than $1.25 a day.
Humanity & Inclusion's priority is to help build the capacities of local Organizations for People with Disabilities (OPDs or DPOs) by being actively involved in physical rehabilitation as well as access to quality services and support in isolated areas of the country.
Our Current Work
In addition to capacity building, Humanity & Inclusion's team in Bangladesh is dedicated to:
- Improve quality of life in refugee camps
- Develop accessible and secure play areas for children in refugee camps
- Promote economic inclusion
- Provide assistance in natural disaster risk preparation
Improving Quality of Life in Refugee Camps
Humanity & Inclusion improves quality of life by providing rehabilitation services to people with disabilities and vulnerable individuals in refugee camps by enabling them to participate in social, economic, and educational activities.
Growing Together Project
With support from the IKEA Foundation, the organization's Growing Together project is developing accessible and secure play areas for children in refugee camps in Thailand, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
This project will enable children with and without disabilities to play, learn, and grow up together in a secure and inclusive environment.
Humanity & Inclusion empowers more than 4,000 households of people with disabilities to lift themselves out of poverty. This project provides support for those persons with disabilities to achieve functional autonomy and access to basic health and social services.
Natural Disaster Risk Preparation
Humanity & Inclusion works with multiple partners to achieve effective inclusion of socially excluded groups such as women and people with disabilities. HI's regional project in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka will help to reduce the vulnerability of people living in areas prone to natural disasters.
The project also raises awareness and improves the intervention capacities of local authorities.
Our Past Work
Humanity & Inclusion has been in Bangladesh since 1997, promoting an inclusive culture for ALL people with disabilities and who are vulnerable. Over time, our work has evolved to meet the dynamic needs of the communities where we serve.
Read on to learn more about our past work in Bangladesh and consider investing in our future.
Partnering with Bangladesh Legal Aid Services (BLAST), Humanity & Inclusion built the capacities of national and local legal service providers in order to improve access to legal assistance for people with disabilities.
Assistance to the Survivors of the Rana Plaza Collapse
As a result of the devastating collapse of the Rana Plaza Building in Dhaka in 2013, Humanity & Inclusion provided physical therapy to people with disabilities who were affected by the incident.
The organization has also put in place a sustainable socio-economic recovery project that facilitates employment for those who lost their jobs in as a result of the collapse.
Disability Resource Center
The Dhaka Center for Services and Information on Disability (CSID) is providing people with disabilities internet access to promote the rights of people with disabilities. HI is working with CSID to ensure that some 2,500 people with disabilities can access the data and share it with decision-makers, program directors, researchers, students, and other people with disabilities.
Community Based Rehabilitation
Humanity & Inclusion launched a project in 2011 that aimed to strengthen the skills of community based rehabilitation professionals.
In the county, 35 local community-based organizations have improved their knowledge of community-based rehabilitation.