When Sonia was two-years-old, she contracted meningitis, causing her to have hearing loss and blindness and one eye. Today, the 19-year-old attends a college that is adapted to her specific needs, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Sonia is in her third year, studying for a diploma in hospitality. Once she’s finished with her studies, she hopes to open her own restaurant. But like many other students with disabilities, she’s concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic will affect her plans for the future.
Living in poverty
Sonia lives with her mother and seven brothers and sisters nearly 19 miles from the country's capital, Ouagadougou, where she studies hospitality. During the academic year, she lives with a host family next to her college.
Her family is extremely poor. Sonia's mother grows vegetables on a plot of land and breeds a few animals. She extracts sand and gravel, and sells it in the city. Her brothers and sisters work in the fields. During breaks from school, Sonia helps take care of the peanut crop.
Attending college and learning a trade
Sonia will soon earn her diploma in hospitality, but her classes have been cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her school was closed for two months and now she is worried about her future. "It's difficult for a hard-of-hearing person like me to find a job because it’s not easy to communicate,” Sonia says. “When people don't understand what you're saying, or when they think you can't understand, they automatically pigeonhole you without thinking about what you are capable of."
Sonia often struggles to communicate with her host family in Ouagadougou. The family goes the extra mile to make her feel welcome, but they find it difficult to communicate because no one in the family knows sign language.
Obstacles to self-reliance
Living in a large city with heavy traffic is a challenge for Sonia. She's afraid to travel without help. “I find it frightening when I move around by myself, especially on a bike, because of my disability. If someone blows their horn, I can't hear it and my vision is also very limited. I can ride my bike in the village, but in the city, it's very difficult for me.”
School closure: future in jeopardy?
Schools and colleges were closed for two months to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 and have only just reopened. Sonia's was no exception.
“I’m wondering how the college closure is going to impact on my future. I have to take an exam this year and I don't want to miss it. I'm trying very hard to succeed. My future depends on this college. I really need my diploma. Besides, I miss my courses and my classmates!"
After her diploma, Sonia plans to make her dream a reality by setting up and managing a small restaurant.
Humanity & Inclusion works to protect the most vulnerable
As COVID-19 takes aim at our planet's most vulnerable neighbors, we're ensuring that people with disabilities, people with injuries from conflict, children, women, and especially older people have the information--and even the soap--to stay healthy. Learn more about our COVID-19 response.
In West Africa, millions of children don’t complete elementary school. Some have never been to school. HI estimates that a third of these children have a disability. Our inclusive education program, which runs in nine West African countries, aims to ensure that all children have the opportunity to learn, play, and make friends at school and feel valued in their communities.Read more
In early June, in the town of Tenkodogo, Burkina Faso, a country in West Africa, a Handicap International orthopedic center caught fire and was almost completely destroyed. The causes of the fire are still unknown.Read more
Malnutrition is endemic in Africa’s Sahel, an arid region in between the Sahara desert and the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa, which is often affected by drought. Due to a lack of essential vitamins and minerals, children with malnutrition suffer from restricted growth and develop after-effects, which can be disabling in the long term. The result is not always fatal, but the impact on their quality of life can be devastating.Read more
Humanity & Inclusion promotes Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of people with disabilities and vulnerable populations in development and fragile settings. View the flier here.
Since 1982, Humanity & Inclusion has worked in more than 30 countries to respond to the mental health and psychosocial needs of people facing humanitarian crises and/or living in precarious contexts. Our teams promote optimal mental health and foster social participation in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. View the flier here.
HIV & Disability in West Africa: A Combined Analysis of 4 Studies Conducted in Burkina Faso, Niger, Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde (2019)
(Only available in French) Humanity & Inclusion works to ensure that no one is forgotten. This research paper responds to the call of UNAIDs and ensuring that no one is forgotten in the response to the epidemic. This paper includes four studies which seek to better understand the situation by HIV-related situation of disabled men and women living in West Africa. View the paper in French here.
This Kisumu County strategy outlays the principles, objectives and actionable activities that the Department of Health and Sanitation of the County Government of Kisumu, Kenya commits to undertake in order to provide the highest attainable standards of health; particularly sexual and reproductive health. View the strategy here.
Seeing the invisible: Sexuality-related knowledge, attitudes and behavior of children and youth with disabilities in China (2019)
Young people with disabilities have the same right to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) as their peers without disabilities, but their needs and rights are often overlooked. The findings of this study, which was initiated by UNESCO and Humanity & Inclusion, aims to provide evidence to support decision-making by government agencies, educators, development workers and other relevant stakeholders regarding developing and implementing disability-inclusive SRH and sexuality education policies and program for young people in China. View the report here.
Mental health problems are commonplace and affect more than one in four people worldwide. They are responsible for a quarter of all disabilities. This document aims to provide a basis for exploring these concepts as part of more in-depth work, including an update of the 2011 mental health framework document. View the document here.
Humanity & Inclusion works to prevent violence based on disability, gender and age and its disabling consequences in development and fragile settings, as well as to provide holistic care for survivors of violence, exploitation and abuse. HI’s goal is to ensure that people with disabilities and other at-risk groups are less exposed to violence and can live in dignity, independently, and with control over their own lives. View the flier here.
Humanity & Inclusion promotes the awareness raising, prevention, early detection, and care management of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes in development and fragile settings View the flier here.
People with disabilities are living with HIV. This paper explains why they must be included in virus prevention education, provided access to treatments, and rehabilitation. What's more, people living with HIV are not receiving proper rehabilitation care as the virus causes impairments. View the article here.
Road safety is a growing development and public health issue. Globally, road crashes are close to becoming one of the first five causes of death, and non-fatal injuries heavily impact on disability. Indeed, each year, road crashes kill 1.25 million people and injure as many as 50 million others. View the briefing paper here.
This document is intended to provide guidance and a framework for each stage of the project cycle for projects tackling the theme of diabetes and other cardiovascular risk factors. View report here and brief format here.
This analysis paper presents the ‘know-how’ acquired by Humanity & Inclusion in its diabetes prevention and control projects. View report here.
A policy paper that presents a design for a national plan on psychosocial interventions, aiming to develop and promote the national plan established during the July 2006 war. View report here.
As It Is: Research Findings on the Knowledge, Attitude, Practice and Access to HIV and AIDS Information and Services Amongst Persons with Disability (2007)
Scientifically gathered information concerning the knowledge, attitude and practice among people with disabilities in areas surrounding HIV and AIDS. View report here.
Humanity & Inclusion in Burkina Faso
Our team has been present in Burkina Faso since 1990, improving access to key services and promoting greater societal inclusion for people with disabilities.
Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world. The most marginalized members of the community, including people with disabilities, frequently live in poverty and have no access to education or healthcare.
A recent study showed that 85% of people with disabilities have received no education, 56% are unemployed, with a lack of professional qualifications cited as the main reason, and 44% feel socially excluded.
Our Current Work
Currently, Humanity & Inclusion employs a team of 57 national staff and three expatriates who work diligently to:
- Provide rehabilitation services
- Promote inclusive education
- Support child abuse prevention efforts
- Promote peace by supporting women's organizations
Humanity & Inclusion provides people living in the Center East (Tenkodogo) region with information on rehabilitation services for people with disabilities and works with the ministry to ensure functional rehabilitation is taken into account in national health policies.
The organization also supports the training of health and functional rehabilitation professionals.
Ensure All Children Have Access to Education
Humanity & Inclusion works to ensure that children with disabilities have access to education by:
- Integrate children with disabilities into public schools
- Training teachers and other stakeholders within the education sector
- Raising awareness about the importance of including children with disabilities in all aspects of society
Child Abuse Prevention
In partnership with Terre des Hommes, Humanity & Inclusion's "Struggle Project" reduces child abuse by strengthening protection systems at the national and local levels using a participatory approach involving children, communities, and state services to develop a chain of actors that work together in local networks of protection.
Promoting Peace By Supporting Women's Organizations
Humanity & Inclusion works to reduce inter- and intra-community conflict by supporting women's organizations engaged in inclusive peace and social-cohesion initiatives in the provinces of Séno and Oudalan.
One of the objectives of this work is to ease tensions between Malian refugees and local host communities.