Democratic Republic of the Congo | Daïsane’s wheelchair opens new doors
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.
Democratic Republic of the Congo | Putting two shoes on, at last!
Following a fire when he was little, Dieudonné's leg was amputated. After receiving a new artificial limb from Humanity & Inclusion, he is learning to walk again and is even starting to play soccer.
Dieudonné is 12 years old and lives with his grandmother, aunt and cousin in a small community in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Following a fire when he was only three months old, he had to have his right leg amputated. In 2022, Dieudonné was given an artificial limb by HI and is currently participating in physical therapy sessions at the University Clinics of Kinshasa. He can now stand without difficulty and is learning to walk without using his crutches.
Dieudonné is cared for by his grandmother, Rose, who sees him as her own son.
One day, when he was still a baby, oil spilled on the ground and the house caught fire. Dieudonné’s leg was caught in the flames, but Rose just managed to save him and took him straight to the hospital. The doctors had to make a quick decision to amputate, as the fire had already damaged a large part of his right leg, almost to the knee. During his stay in the hospital, the doctors treated the wound until it healed.
When one of HI’s mobile clinics came in contact with Dieudonné in 2020, the team found that he required surgery before he could be given the appropriate fittings. The HI team advised Rose to seek the support of a local elected official, known for their generosity and awareness of people with disabilities, to raise the funds needed for the operation.
In 2021, after having his operation and being hospitalized for more than a month, Dieudonné was able to return home and go back to school. He then had to wait for the wound to heal completely before he could receive his artificial leg. Delivery of the prosthesis was delayed by a major strike in the medical sector, but in 2022 HI was able to provide him with an artificial limb that allowed him to walk using both legs.
With great emotion in her voice, Rose explains how happy she is to see her grandson walk as he did before.
“I was very annoyed, because all these years whenever I bought a pair of shoes, I could only give him one and had to throw the other one away,” Rose explains. “It was like throwing money down the drain! Now it’s over, he can finally put both shoes on.
“And if HI hadn’t intervened, we wouldn’t have had this prosthesis because they're very expensive and I don’t have the money to buy one.”
Before receiving his artificial limb, Dieudonné walked with a crutch which required a lot of effort. Thanks to his rehabilitation exercises with Euphrasie, his physical therapist, he is learning to walk and everything now seems easier.
Euphrasie works at the University Clinics in Kinshasa. Several years ago, the rehabilitation center there was supported by HI. She has been working there with Dieudonné for over four weeks and explains with a smile how well he is doing. She can feel the full force of the young boy’s desire to get up, move around and walk.
“Dieudonné is really making a tremendous effort to get better and it’s great to have the rehabilitation sessions with him,” Euphrasie says.” I also work with adults, and it’s complicated at times with some of them who don’t necessarily have the same motivation.”
Euphrasie does several exercises with Dieudonné: going up and down stairs, catching and throwing a ball, walking, and more so he will feel increasingly comfortable with his artificial leg. During these exercises, Euphrasie says to him, in a kind and knowing voice: “Don’t be scared to put all your weight on your prosthesis, Dieudonné, it’s quite solid. Have faith in it!”
Covid-19 | Center for Disaster Philanthropy funds actions in Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia
Humanity & Inclusion U.S. is thrilled to announce a new funding partnership with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP).
Two grants of $250,000 each, provided through the CDP’s Covid-19 Response Fund, will support Humanity & Inclusion-operated projects addressing the impacts of Covid-19 among communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia.
In the DRC, Humanity & Inclusion will encourage community-based prevention on Covid-19 and good hygiene practices, and promote access to health care through the strengthening of women's clubs in the communes of Bumbu and Selembao in Kinshasa. In Somalia, the Humanity & Inclusion-led project will place persons with disabilities, their caregivers, supportive networks of choice, and their representative organizations at the center of Covid-19 preparedness and recovery activities, which will include community consultation and training in inclusive health practices.
Both projects are scheduled to launch in late summer 2022.
The CDP’s mission is to leverage the power of philanthropy to mobilize a full range of resources that strengthen the ability of communities to withstand disasters and recover equitably when they occur.
Humanity & Inclusion is excited to work with the CDP in launching these much-needed community-based projects in the DRC and Somalia. And we are looking forward to building on this partnership moving forward.
Democratic Republic of the Congo | Developing local agriculture to alleviate the food crisis
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Humanity & Inclusion is working alongside local farmers to help communities cope with the threat of a food crisis.
More than 35% of the population in the Kasaï-Central province in the Democratic Republic of Congo is severely food insecure, leading to increasing levels of malnutrition. Action Against Hunger, Humanity & Inclusion and other partners are implementing agricultural recovery and food aid activities, funded by USAID, in the Dibaya area that will reach more than 32,500 people.
In March 2022, Humanity & Inclusion distributed vegetable growing kits to 4,700 households. These kits contained a spade, hoes, a rake, a watering can and seeds for vegetables including cabbage, okra, eggplant and tomato.
Supported by state technical services, Humanity & Inclusion teams have trained 63 “relay” farmers in vegetable-growing practices. The training is designed to strengthen the farmers’ skills while teaching them eco-friendly farming techniques, such as growing crops without the use of chemical pesticides and producing natural fertilizer. These farmers then relay their newly acquired knowledge to their communities, transferring their skills to more people.
Agnès Nkaya, pictured above, lives in Kabenguelé and completed the training.
“This is the first time we have had this kind of training in the village,” she explains. “It’s very useful because we have problems making our farmland fertile enough, and protecting our crops from pests and diseases. As part of the training, the Humanity & Inclusion teams taught us how to prepare a vegetable garden, how to recognize soil suitable for vegetable production, how to make the beds and how to plant the seeds.”
One goal of this training is to make agricultural activities sustainable by encouraging the use of fertilizer made from locally available products, such as plant debris, ash and manure.
“For me, the most interesting module was the one on natural fertilizers, especially the 7-day compost,” Nkaya continues. “This is the kind of knowledge we are looking for to improve our practices and production. We have all the raw materials we need in our villages, but, until now, we didn't know how to use them. Thanks to this training, I won’t have problems with my production anymore because I’ll make my own natural fertilizers."
Nkaya looks forward to sharing these new techniques with her neighbors.
“I’m well-equipped now and ready to pass on what I’ve learned to other people in my village,” Nkaya adds. “This will also be an opportunity for me to improve my own grasp of these techniques. As well as sharing knowledge with us, Humanity & Inclusion has provided us with equipment—waterproofs, rubber boots, rope and logbooks—to help us when we train other people. I will make good use of it!"
GREEN Initiative: Humanity & Inclusion is committed to reducing the adverse effects of climate change on populations worldwide. We help communities prepare for and adapt to climate shocks and stresses, and we respond to crises magnified by environmental factors. Applying a disability, gender and age (DGA) inclusion lens across all our actions, we advocate for practitioners and policy-makers to embed DGA in their climate work as well. Humanity & Inclusion is also determined to reduce its own ecological footprint by adapting and implementing environmentally conscious approaches to humanitarian action.
Democratic Republic of the Congo | After volcano, more than 34,000 gallons of drinking water delivered
Humanity & Inclusion teams are helping people affected by the May eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The disaster displaced more than 400,000 people and destroyed houses and infrastructure in the city of Goma. For instance, the volcano’s destruction has disrupted the supply of clean drinking water.
Humanity & Inclusion is coordinating a fleet of trucks to help other organizations deliver humanitarian supplies. In partnership with Action Against Hunger, Humanity & Inclusion is transporting water to four distribution sites in the district of Nyiragongo. With two trucks, teams are making six round trips a day to fill each water tank three times.
So far, more than 34,000 gallons of clean drinking water has been delivered to people who need it most.
Democratic Republic of the Congo | Humanitarian crisis looms after volcanic eruption
The Nyiragongo volcano erupted on May 22, spewing lava over neighboring villages and causing reverberating tremors throughout the region. Jérémy Mouton, Humanity & Inclusion’s Emergency Watch and Preparedness Officer in the Democratic Republic of Congo, gives an update on the humanitarian crisis now facing the people of Goma:
In Goma, many people displaced by the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano are starting to return to the city due to a lack of reception areas and access to services in displacement zones where temporary shared shelters have been set up. And, because they’re afraid their homes in Goma will be broken into, they want to return as soon as possible.
Although some businesses have reopened and transportation services are up and running again, many homes have been destroyed or damaged.
The needs of people affected by the disaster are immense. They are unable to access health care, housing, water, sanitary facilities and food—neither in Goma nor in displacement areas. Displacement has also given rise to overcrowding, lack of privacy, separation of family members and other factors that have exposed people—particularly women, children and people with disabilities—to risk of violence and abuse.
Humanity & Inclusion has worked in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1995 and is currently providing response in aid to people in North Kivu. The organization is coordinating a fleet of trucks for humanitarian organizations to deliver supplies to people who need them most. Humanity & Inclusion is also planning to provide psychosocial support to people affected by the disaster and to distribute kits containing essential household items such as tarps and blankets to make the return home easier.
Democratic Republic of the Congo | Volcanic eruption leaves families displaced, in need of essentials
Humanity & Inclusion is providing aid to the most vulnerable people displaced by the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano near Goma in Democratic Republic of the Congo’s North Kivu province.
The May 22 eruption displaced more than 416,000 people in North and South Kivu, as well as Rwanda. Hundreds of earthquakes followed the eruption, creating panic and anxiety among residents.
Having left behind or lost their homes and belongings, thousands of families are now without basic necessities or income. Many are living in unsanitary conditions in a region already facing an alarming humanitarian situation, including the presence of numerous armed groups and food insecurity.
The needs are immense. People affected by the eruption face poor access to drinking water and sanitary facilities, food insecurity, the risk of cholera, and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Humanity & Inclusion has worked in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1995, and is responding to assist the most vulnerable people in North Kivu. The organization's logistics experts are also coordinating a fleet of trucks to deliver Humanity & Inclusion supplies, as well as those from other humanitarian organizations.
In this anxiety-inducing climate, Humanity & Inclusion will provide psychological support to impacted people. Teams will also distribute kits containing essential household items such as tarps, blankets, pots and pans, and soap to those in need over the coming weeks.
Three weeks after the volcano’s eruption, earthquakes are less frequent in Goma and displaced people are returning home. In some of the worst-hit neighborhoods, however, homes have been destroyed, water pipes burst and other damage has been reported. According to the Office of Volcanology in Goma, another eruption is still a possibility.
Report: Humanity & Inclusion's Response to Covid-19
When Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic in March 2020, Humanity & Inclusion mobilized its teams to help the most vulnerable people affected by the crisis. Providing emergency response in almost all the countries where Humanity & Inclusion works has been a major challenge, especially since its emergency teams are normally able to focus their efforts on a handful of countries or regions. Humanity & Inclusion therefore provided emergency response and adapted its routine projects to help all those in need.
As of December 2020, more than 65 million people worldwide have been infected with Covid-19 and more than 1.5 million people have died.
While the epidemic has hit Western countries extremely hard, it is also affecting many countries in Asia, the Middle East, South and Central America and Africa, which are already affected by violent conflicts, political and socio-economic crises, frequent natural disasters, and significant climate change. Thousands of people need assistance.
In response to the Covid-19 crisis, Humanity & Inclusion has:
- Provided response in 46 of the 50 countries where it works;
- Implemented more than 160 projects in aid of people affected by the Covid-19 crisis;
- Given assistance to more than 2 million people between March and August 2020 alone;
- Provided more than 1.6 million people with information on Covid-19 prevention measures;
- Distributed more than 138,000 hygiene kits containing hand sanitizer, soaps, and other items;
- Distributed more than 800,000 masks;
- Provided food to more than 6,800 vulnerable families;
- Organized thousands of psychosocial support sessions for people who feel insecure or traumatized as a result of the crisis;
- Conducted thousands of tele-rehabilitation sessions in countries where a strict lockdown has been imposed to continue providing its routine services to people in need.
Beyond its impact on health, Covid-19 has had a considerable effect on children’s education. According to a Unesco report, some 1.6 billion children and teenagers have been deprived of school education in 190 countries as a result of the pandemic. The situation is even more worrying for children with disabilities, who find it harder to access education.
This pandemic has also considerably increased poverty and food insecurity. People in 25 countries are expected to face devastating levels of hunger in the coming months due to the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. The number of acute food insecure people could increase from 149 million before the pandemic to 270 million.
Identifying the needs of the most vulnerable people
Humanity & Inclusion's teams and volunteers trained by the organization have identified the needs of the most vulnerable people including older people, single women with children, people with disabilities, migrant populations, and refugees. Those with the greatest needs are receiving direct assistance such as awareness sessions, distribution of hygiene kits, food assistance, cash transfers, and psychosocial support, or referrals to an organization that can offer them appropriate care, including healthcare for those infected with Covid-19.
Leading awareness-raising sessions
More than 1.6 million people affected by the pandemic have taken part in awareness sessions in villages and communities in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, South America and the Caribbean, and at home. Humanity & Inclusion has provided people with information on Covid-19, including the risk of transmission and prevention measures, through group meetings in villages, refugee camps, and the like; one-on-one sessions; and awareness campaigns based on leaflets, posters, and other materials. The organization has also aired programs on radio and TV. For example, in Nepal, Humanity & Inclusion has produced videos with subtitles and in sign language adapted to people with hearing difficulties, in partnership with the World Health Organization, which have been aired on Nepalese television.
Offering psychosocial support
Humanity & Inclusion has provided psychosocial support to people affected by the pandemic and the trauma it has caused, from economic hardships to loss of family and friends. More than 225,000 people received psychosocial support, including by telephone, from Humanity & Inclusion. The organization has also provided support to medical staff who are on the front line.
Distributing hygiene items, food, and cash
Humanity & Inclusion has distributed more than 138,000 hygiene kits composed of hand sanitizer, soaps, cleaning supplies, and the like. More than 800,000 masks have also been provided to people who need them.
In many countries, the food supply chain has been disrupted by border closures and lockdown measures. In Bolivia, especially, it is more complicated to access food in cities. Price inflation has soared and many people, who have lost their jobs, have found it more difficult to access food. Humanity & Inclusion has provided food assistance to more than 6,800 families by distributing goods, cash transfers, non-perishable foods, fresh produce from partner organizations, and so on.
Humanity & Inclusion has also identified people living in situations of extreme vulnerability, including refugees and families living in extreme poverty, and provided them with cash transfers to access basic services and meet their basic needs such as paying rent, buying food, and going to the doctor. So far, 7,565 families have received cash transfers from Humanity & Inclusion.
Transporting humanitarian supplies
The measures put in place to combat the spread of Covid-19 have entrenched humanitarian crises and made it harder to implement humanitarian aid projects. Faced with the difficulties of transporting humanitarian supplies and mobility issues caused by lockdowns, quarantines and other restrictions, Humanity & Inclusion, through its logistics department, has shifted the focus of its operations in Central African Republic, Bangladesh and Mali. News projects were also implemented in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Haiti for the transport and shared storage of health and humanitarian equipment, the repair of airport runways and roads to isolated health centers, and the like.
Humanity & Inclusion has also mobilized three experts from the Réseau Logistique Humanitaire (RLH) to coordinate airlifts to 12 countries. More than 141,000 cubic feet of emergency supplies and 1,200 humanitarian and medical staff were transported as part of this operation.
Conducting tele-rehabilitation sessions
Humanity & Inclusion continued providing rehabilitation care to patients who need it by adapting its working methods to the Covid-19 pandemic. Where the situation allowed, physical therapists continued to provide care in rehabilitation centers in compliance with safety rules such as social distancing and mask-wearing.
In countries where lockdowns were imposed, online tele-rehabilitation sessions have enabled thousands of patients to continue doing their physical therapy exercises at home by watching videos or receiving instructions via telephone, WhatsApp, and other technology. Humanity & Inclusion has organized thousands of tele-rehabilitation sessions in Nepal, for example, and developed virtual rehabilitation apps in Rwanda and Vietnam.
Promoting safety and inclusion
Humanity & Inclusion referred more than 470 people with the greatest protection needs, such as single women, isolated children, and refugees to specialized organizations able to offer them appropriate support.
Lastly, Humanity & Inclusion’s teams trained 201 staff from partner humanitarian organizations to include the most vulnerable people such as people with disabilities, isolated women, and older people in activities organized for victims of the Covid-19 crisis. The aim is to ensure that no one is left behind.
Help Humanity & Inclusion continue its global response to Covid-19:
Democratic Republic of the Congo | After overcoming polio, Trésor aspires to be a doctor
Trésor calls his brace “libende,” which means “piece of iron” in the Lingala language. Trésor is fond of the brace, which has helped him live a normal life after he contracted polio when he was 3. He’s 12 now.
One of nine children, Trésor and his family live among the sprawling suburbs of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where Trésor’s mother sells biscuits on the side of the road.
When Trésor was 3, he came down with a bad fever and his parents rushed him to the hospital.
“I remember when my little brother got polio like it was yesterday,” said Nsumbu-Mateka, Trésor’s older brother. “It wasn’t long before we realized Trésor would never regain the use of his left leg. We were so shocked. He couldn't play or run around like before. Our parents were really unhappy about it but there was nothing they could do.”
After Trésor lost use of his leg and his ability to walk, Nsumbu-Mateka saw that he wasn’t able to participate in every day activities.
"There are a lot of people like my brother around here, but unfortunately most never leave home,” Nsumbu-Mateka explained. “The children don’t go to school. They can’t move around, and in some ways, they’re excluded from the community."
Wanting better for his younger brother, Nsumbu-Mateka began looking into educational opportunities for Trésor. He learned of a school in their neighborhood that accepts children with disabilities. Thanks to his brother’s advocacy, Trésor attended his first day of school when he was 9. That’s where Trésor met Humanity & Inclusion’s team, which works to promote school enrollment for children with disabilities.
Through its inclusive education project, Humanity & Inclusion ensures that schools are accessible for children with reduced mobility, trains teachers to adapt their lessons for students with disabilities, and works to provide individual support to children with disabilities.
Trésor was one of those children. Humanity & Inclusion arranged for Trésor to visit a local orthopedic center, where he received a pair of crutches, a brace, and a custom-made orthopedic shoe. Through donor support, Humanity & Inclusion continues to work with Trésor, providing the growing boy on average two new braces each year.
Now, with his “libende” and crutches, Trésor walks 45 minutes to school each day. He particularly loves calculus and French, and dreams of becoming a doctor one day so he can care for others. His classmates are amazed by his willpower and happy to call him their friend.
Trésor loves spending time with his family, especially his brother, Nsumbu-Mateka. He plays games and draws cartoons. But most of all, Trésor enjoys paying a few cents to rent a bike and showing the other children that he can ride a bike, just like them.
First photo: A young boy named Trésor crouches down while playing a game with bottle caps outside his home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has a big smile. He is wearing a bright blue plaid shirt, jeans, blue and black tennis shoes, and a brace on his left leg.
Second photo: Trésor sits on a table and has his foot measured during a consultation with Humanity & Inclusion staff. His is wearing a white shirt and shorts. He is barefoot.
Third photo: Trésor sits in a chair, holding a yellow soccer ball. He has a big smile. He is wearing a bright blue plaid shirt, jeans, blue and black tennis shoes, and a brace on his left leg. His crutches are leaning on the wall beside him.
Democratic Republic of the Congo | Philémon gains confidence through psychosocial support
“Philémon, my son, was ten years old at the time,” says Véronique as she recalls the day of her son's accident. “He was walking home from school. He was a hundred yards or so from the house where 13 of us live. The traffic is terrible in Goma. A truck loaded with stones missed Philémon by inches, then tipped over and crushed his leg.
“The neighbors ran to tell us. I couldn't believe it. I was in a total panic when I got to the hospital. My son was in intensive care. When I finally got to see him, the doctors had already amputated his right leg. It was like a nightmare.”
Véronique and her husband Jean-Pierre live in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a region torn apart by more than two decades of conflict. The couple live in a small home along with their 11 children.
After Philémon’s accident, he had to stay in hospital for three months, and endured three operations. "His leg was swollen, and he wanted to die,” his mother continues. “He was so depressed. It was torture seeing him like that. When he came home, we would often find him sitting in a corner, crying.”
Humanity & Inclusion’s rehabilitation team met Philémon and gave him a pair of crutches. We then started providing him with physical therapy sessions three times a week at a Goma provincial hospital.
“His stump is in a good condition,” explains Noela, a physical therapist with Humanity & Inclusion. “But after the accident, they had to amputate the whole leg. He’s going to have to wear a special belt around his waist so his prosthesis stays on. At the moment, Philémon is doing exercises to strengthen the stump and make it more flexible.”
To help boost his confidence, Philémon also attends psychosocial support sessions with Brigitte, a psychologist from Humanity & Inclusion. “He is participating in psychosocial sessions," Brigitte says. "He plays and expresses he feelings, but it’s not easy. Philémon is still very fragile and very withdrawn. He used to have a lot of friends. Now it's more complicated. At school, he is the only child with a disability out of more than a thousand students. It is still difficult.”
When Humanity & Inclusion’s team asks Philémon what he wants to do when he grows up, he hesitates, then whispers that he likes cars and mechanics. His father adds, “I'm dreaming a little, but I'd like him to be an entrepreneur.”