Mohamed Badal is a 45-year-old father of 10, living in Fafan, a rural city in the Somali region, southeast Ethiopia. He is an owner of an electronic maintenance business. Like many small businesses, income has been deeply hit by the lockdown, causing him a lot of stress. Our team recently checked in with Mohamed to see how he was doing. Here’s what he told us:
How COVID-19 changes daily life
I work as electronic maintenance technician. My wife has a small restaurant. We were all doing ok before COVID-19, but now our daily income from the restaurant and electronic maintenance business is at risk. Demand from customers has rapidly declined, and our daily income is impacted. Customers who were traveling from surrounding villages are unable to come due to travel restrictions. I am really worried about my family’s future.
Living in isolation
Everyone is living in in isolation for fear of contracting the coronavirus . And due to travel restrictions, it’s difficult to reach social or heath services. When I needed treatment for tuberculosis, I was not able to go to the Jijiga Karamarda Hospital. Nobody wanted to take me there. There is so much fear among the community, so social cohesion is affected.
Living in fear
I fear the virus. It is currently a stressful living condition and I am worried about the impact for the future if COVID-19 continues to spread. If the virus hits the area hard, life will be even more difficult.
Impact for the future
I would like our easy daily life back, with a daily income, free movement and social interaction. I like my job of maintaining electronics, and I would also like to a become role model to show other community members that people with disabilities are capable and strong enough to manage their daily life.
Staying informed about COVID-19
I am well informed. I’ve obtained prevention information from Humanity & Inclusion and the government. Some of the information is about washing hands with soap and water, and to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth before hand washing. It’s also recommended not to shake hands.
I also received hygiene kits from Humanity & Inclusion. COVID-19 can be prevented by following the instruction provided by health professionals like maintaining physical distancing and avoiding mass gatherings.
I am personally able to implement these prevention measures, but physical distancing is difficult, because for the community here, being together is very important and people are not very disciplined, it isn’t easy to learn new practices.
Humanity & Inclusion works to protect the most vulnerable
As of May 7, we count 141 new projects that aim to protect our beneficiaries and staff from the virus, and to help them during their countries' lock downs. 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.
Meryam is a 40-year-old mother of 10, living in Ethiopia. After being injured in a car accident, she now walks with crutches. Meryam runs her own peanut trade business in Fafan, in southeast Ethiopia. But the lockdown due to COVID-19 has put a stop to all trading activities. Our team recently checked in with Meryam to see how she was doing. Here’s what she told us:
Business has come to a halt
I use to sell peanuts for a living. Last month’s profit was approximately 500 Birr (15 USD) and that was rather good. My elder daughter sometimes tailors and sews which generates between 150 and 200 Birr. My husband is a daily labourer, but I bring in the main income for the family. We used to have just enough to cover household expenses like food.
Due to COVID-19, the transport of groundnuts from the production sites to my home has stopped due to a national ban on travel. I have no source of income apart from my daughter, who still has some sewing orders, and support from one of my sons. Mutual assistance is really the key to cope with such a crisis in order to survive.
Hygiene kits & awareness from Humanity & Inclusion
Humanity & Inclusion has provided us with COVID-19 hygiene kits and awareness information. I have also received public awareness notifications via mobile and on our local TV about COVID’s origin, transmission and preventive measures. I have changed my habits. I used to wash my hands with water only but now I am now using soap, like the rest of my family.
We have understood the main messages: frequently wash your hands with soap, no hand shaking when greeting and avoid public gatherings.
Education & health care
Like in most countries around the world, school teaching programs have ceased. Two of my children are still in primary school and one is in junior school.
I need regular rehabilitation care for my legs, but it is currently impossible due to the limitation of movement. Plus, medical teams are mainly focusing on the COVID crisis. A few days ago, my daughter had a severe stomach ache and it took a long time to reach a professional because the few professional health physicians were already engaged in COVID prevention.
Reduced social contact
I am a member of the local businesswoman’s group and I am used to participating in discussions on a weekly basis with other members about business and other social issues. But the group is smaller than usual. We are not allowed to gather all 25 members at once. For those that do come, we practice social distancing.
I am really sad to see that traditions have been suspended. Last week we were informed that we would not be able to attend funerals. In this time of crisis, we really need strong social cohesion.
I want this crisis to pass as quickly as possible, so we can all be back to normal life.
Violence affects one in three women in their lifetime. Globally, women with disabilities are ten times more likely to experience sexual violence. Over the next three weeks, Humanity & Inclusion will address the violence against women with disabilities at the 71st session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, organized by the United Nations in Geneva from October 22 through November 9.
25 years of work
Humanity & Inclusion implements projects to address violence in six countries around the world by raising women's awareness of their rights and helping them build self-reliance. In Rwanda, HI provides psychological support to victims of physical and sexual violence, including women, and organizes discussion groups. In Rwanda, Burundi, and Kenya, our team works to combat sexual violence against children, including children with disabilities, who are three to four times more likely to be at risk of violence.
Making it Work
HI launched the Making it Work Gender and Disability project to promote good practices in order to eliminate violence against women and girls with disabilities. The aim is to ensure that women's voices are heard and that the risks they face (violence, abuse, and exploitation) are taken into account in the projects implemented by other organizations in the fields of humanitarian action, human rights, feminism, and gender-based violence.
Gender and disability intersectionality in practice: Women and girls with disabilities addressing discrimination and violence in Africa
In June 2018, Humanity & Inclusion's Making it Work project published the report, “Gender and disability intersectionality in practice: Women and girls with disabilities addressing discrimination and violence in Africa,” which presents nine best practices for women’s organizations in six African countries. Women leaders with disabilities presented the report at the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in New York.
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.
This committee is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
 Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
The children I recently met in Ethiopia changed me forever. For the past three years, working at HI has allowed me to witness firsthand the impact our projects have made in the lives of millions worldwide. From visiting our projects in Morocco, to my most recent life-changing trip visiting inclusive schools and refugee camps in Ethiopia, I can confidently say to you today, our donors’ support truly makes a difference.
In May, I visited some of HI’s inclusive schools, which were supported by USAID, in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. There, I met children filled with smiles and excitement, grateful for the opportunity to learn. I saw wheelchair users zip from one class to the next using the ramps we built and teacher’s aides translating the day’s lesson in sign language while students attentively listened and responded, approaching the chalkboard with their answers. It was incredibly beautiful to see the teacher and students working together to mold the future leaders of tomorrow.
While there, I met with 14-year-old Yabsera (pictured left) during his recess break. Yabsera told me, “I’m really happy at this school, especially seeing children like me.” Born with a disability affecting his legs, Yabsera rarely left his family home and only knew life through the experiences of others. Mobility was a major issue for him. He was often carried around by a family member or crawled across the floor at home. That all changed when he met Humanity & Inclusion. Our team provided him with his very first wheelchair, giving him the independence to move around and attend school.
When I asked him about his goals, he told me that he hopes more kids like him can have the opportunity to attend school. When Yabsera sees other children with disabilities in his community, he tells them, “You can have a future, too.”
Globally, 32 million children with disabilities are not in school – children longing to have a future. With support from our donors, we’re working to change this injustice and open the world to children in countries like Ethiopia, Nepal, Burkina Faso, and Laos through our #school4all campaign. Learn more about #school4all and help us send more children like Yabsera to school today.
Written by Reisa V. Tomlinson, U.S. Development Officer
The grazing regions of Oromia and Somali in southern and eastern Ethiopia have witnessed an escalation in inter-ethnic violence in recent months. Since last September, more than one million people have fled their villages and been displaced to hundreds of reception areas. HI is working to protect the most vulnerable individuals, primarily women and children. Fabrice Vandeputte, HI’s head of mission in Ethiopia, explains the causes of the crisis and how our team is responding.
For years, ethnic groups have been fighting over natural resources, especially water and pasture land in the regions of Somali and Oromia in southern and eastern Ethiopia. But the conflict has intensified due to long periods of drought and the famines that have followed them. A disagreement over where the border lies between the two regions also recently turned violent, when hundreds of thousands of people from Oromia living in Somali and even in neighboring Somaliland were forcibly removed to Oromia. The Oromia authorities expelled the Somali population in reprisal.
Where are the displaced people living?
More than one million displaced people, mostly women and children, are currently living in 400 reception areas, such as schools and public buildings, but also with families and the like, on a north-south line from the towns of Jigaga to Moyale, on the border between the Somali and Oromia regions. These population movements are putting a lot of pressure on host communities. For example, one woman we met recently has taken in 50 or so members of her close or extended family. You can imagine the day-to-day problems that causes in terms of sanitary facilities, food, and so on.
What are conditions like for displaced people?
They’re exhausted. Think about it: you’re walking down the street, minding your own business, when you’re suddenly surrounded by police who load you onto a vehicle, and transport you hundreds of miles away from your home region. That’s what’s happened to most displaced people. They’ve lost everything they own. A lot of children even get separated from their parents. Many suffer serious psychological distress.
What are NGOs doing?
Unfortunately, very few humanitarian actors are supported by funding bodies or are able to implement emergency programs. NGOs in the field are finding it hard to launch a response because displaced people are spread across lots of different sites, and you have to find them. Organizing aid for people scattered over a large area is not easy.
What is HI doing?
We’ve set up a program to protect women and children. When people are suddenly displaced in large numbers, and forced together in very poor conditions, it leads to tension and violence, and women and children are usually worst affected. There’s also a heightened risk of rape and child trafficking. In Babile and Kersaa, where we work, we’ve formed mobile teams whose job is to spot risky situations and vulnerable individuals and to refer them to the right services, such as health centers, social services, NGOs, and the like. We’re also opening areas for women and children where they can play or get psychosocial support.
How do you think the crisis will develop over the coming months?
Some observers estimate the number of people who could need humanitarian assistance, displaced people and host communities included, at five to seven million. Very few people are paying attention to this crisis and not enough money has been allocated to it. The basic need for water, food, hygiene and facilities are only just being met. The support provided by funding bodies falls short of what’s needed.
Present in the country since 1986, our team is working to provide support to the displaced as well as improve the quality of and access to physical rehabilitation and orthopedic-fitting services, livelihoods facilities for families of children with disabilities, and assistance for refugees and displaced people, and more.
Record numbers of people are fleeing war, drought, and famine in South Sudan and Somalia. People with disabilities or injuries are forced to take enormous risks to reach a place of safety. Handicap International is working hard to make sure that thousands of people in similar situations across East Africa receive immediate card and long-term support. Collectively, we have a responsibility to ensure that all refugees live safe, independent, and dignified lives.Read more
2011 was a year of many milestones–personally and professionally. In May, Patrick proposed and of course, I said yes. After celebrating our engagement, we traveled to Kenya and Ghana, where I had speaking engagements–my first ever in Africa! Shortly thereafter, Patrick made his first trip of many to the Philippines, where he met my aunts, uncles, and endless amounts of cousins.Read more
Across East Africa, hundreds of thousands of people are leaving their homes in search of food and security. With so many people on the move and in need of assistance, Handicap International is concerned that vulnerable people–pregnant women, older people, and people with disabilities–may be forgotten. Handicap International program directors in Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Somaliland explain the situation in each country:Read more