Kenya | Despite Covid-19 challenges, entrepreneur expands sewing business
Zawadi Balagizi, 31, is an entrepreneur living in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. Through training and mentoring, Humanity & Inclusion’s staff helped her cope with the effects of COVID-19 and expand her small business.
Zawadi was exiled from her family because she has a disability. After first seeking refuge in a church, Zawadi chose to migrate to Kenya.
“I began my journey from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Kenya in April 2018,” Zawadi says. “The main reason I embarked on the journey was to get medical attention at a hospital in Nairobi.”
After arriving in Kenya, Zawadi ran out of financial resources and was transferred to the Kakuma refugee camp. There, she started a small business using her sewing skills to make tablecloths.
When the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted global markets, Zawadi felt the impact as well. She depended on her church congregation to sell her products. Due to social distancing and quarantining, people stopped coming to help her, and her customers dwindled.
Expanding her business
Zawadi met Humanity & Inclusion’s team at the rehabilitation center where she received physical therapy sessions and a wheelchair. Zawadi was also included in HI’s livelihood support project. To help her conduct her business, the organization gave her a smartphone and supported her with counseling and training sessions.
“The support I received from HI has helped me cope with life in Kakuma and the business sector,” Zawadi explains.
Zawadi used the grant money she received from HI to improve the accessibility, expansion, and dignity of her business’ workspace. Thanks to HI’s support and the new skills she acquired during training and mentorship programs, Zawadi saw her living standard and business operations improve.
Zawadi intends to expand her business to provide uniforms, covers, and other fabric materials for a local school. She is hopeful that, with time, she will be able to promote her business on social media and open new branches in the Kakuma refugee camp and nearby Kalobeyei settlement.
These actions are supported by the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program.
Kenya | Family thrives with rehabilitation, livelihood assistance
At the Kakuma Refugee Camp and Kalobeyei settlement in Kenya, Humanity & Inclusion operates a number of inclusive projects to assist people with disabilities. One family demonstrates the importance of this holistic approach to humanitarian aid.
When Armele’s mother led her and her seven siblings to flee the Democratic Republic of the Congo, they did not know where to go. The family sought refuge in Kenya, ending up at Kakuma Refugee Camp and eventually the more permanent Kalobeyei settlement.
The family settled in, accessing vital services like food and housing. But two of Armele’s sisters, Lydia and Jolie, required additional assistance. Lydia, 10, lives with paralysis caused by hydrocephalus–a buildup of fluid on the brain that, if left untreated, can cause permanent physical and cognitive disabilities. Jolie, 6, was born with cerebral palsy, creating difficulties for her to walk and speak.
“When we came here, we looked for somewhere to get help,” Armele says. “We were told to visit Humanity & Inclusion’s rehabilitation center. We took Lydia and Jolie there and started doing exercises four days a week.”
Getting to the therapy sessions was challenging. The nearest rehabilitation center is in the next village–a 45-minute trek through the desert. Unable to walk, Lydia and Jolie relied on their mother and siblings to carry them to and from their appointments. Occasionally, they were able to arrange to be dropped off by motorbike–the most common mode of transportation in the camp.
With funding from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, Humanity & Inclusion provides the only rehabilitation services in Kakuma.
Therapy at home
As the sisters began to show improvement, Humanity & Inclusion’s specialists were able to shift the rehabilitation sessions to the family’s home. Physical therapists and community rehabilitation workers living in the settlement, who Humanity & Inclusion has trained in rehabilitation techniques, visit them two to three times a week, massaging their muscles and leading them through functional exercises. The girls’ caregivers have also learned how to continue their treatment at home.
“Jolie has come so far,” Armele explains. “She depended on a caregiver for everything until she started the therapy program. Now she can talk, move and go to school.”
Jolie received a walker to help her cover long distances, and specialists are still working to help improve her balance. Able to walk on her own, Jolie is now enrolled in school.
“I like to run and sing,” she says.
Lydia’s disability is more severe, but the family has seen improvements in her movement and mood. She lights up when Armele lifts her into her special wheelchair, which supports her posture and makes it easier for her to leave the confines of home.
In addition to rehabilitation and education assistance, Humanity & Inclusion has helped the girls’ mother establish a business to care for her family. With support from Mastercard Foundation, she received a microgrant to fund inventory for her clothing store in the village. She is able to generate income to better care for her eight children, while the older siblings take care of Lydia and Jolie. With her earnings, she purchased a mattress for the children to sleep more comfortably.
“Humanity & Inclusion supports us a lot, especially my mom,” Armele says. “Since we came here as refugees, we didn’t know where to start from. Humanity & inclusion has given our mom an opportunity to take care of us children. We learn from her. She takes care of all of us.”
The family also receives mental health and psychosocial support, joining other community members in a support system for caregivers of people with disabilities. With a referral to UNHCR from Humanity & Inclusion, the family also had a special coating applied to the metal roof of their home to provide better insulation and cooler temperatures for the family members who stay there throughout the hottest part of the day.
“We are one family,” Armele says. “With Humanity & Inclusion, we are one family.”
Cuba | Entrepreneur explores passion for baking desserts
Fabián, 19, is an entrepreneur. He has expanded his baking business with support of Humanity & Inclusion’s livelihoods project in Santiago de Cuba. This is his story:
My name is Fabián David de la Cruz Carlés. I am 19 years old. At the age of 12, I fell ill with Guillain-Barré syndrome. This caused temporary paralysis in my legs and arms and left me with weakness in my muscles. It was only thanks to the unconditional support of my younger brother and my mother that I was able to cope.
A passion for dessert
It all started when a social worker and a member of my organization of persons with disabilities visited me at home. They came to tell me that a series of training courses were going to be organized for people with disabilities with the support of Humanity & Inclusion. One of the courses was on confectionery. Confectionery is exactly what I like to do! Ever since I was little, I’ve been helping my mother to make sweets for our family.
The social worker asked me questions about our family and about our household’s economic situation. When she suggested that I enroll in the confectionery course, I immediately said yes. I’m old enough to work and I want to help my mother. She is a single mother and she has already done a lot for us. Now it’s my turn to contribute to the household income and support her.
One of the biggest advantages of the project is the training we were given. We are really well-trained in the activity we chose. My mom and I took courses to learn how to make sweet dough, cakes, meringues, and more.
Starting a business
I never imagined that at my age I would be starting my own business. Now, it’s possible with the equipment I received through Humanity & Inclusion. To help me set up my business, the organization gave me an oven, a meringue-making machine, electric hotplates, a mixer and a fridge in excellent condition.
I am very grateful, because this is a wonderful opportunity for me. Today, I feel like a new person. I think this is the most important step in my rehabilitation journey. Through my work, I will be able to boost my family's income and improve our standard of living. I hope that the opportunity I’ve been given will also be offered to other people with disabilities, so that they can start their own business, too.
Jordan | After injuries led to unemployment, Ahmad starts own sewing business
After two major injuries, Ahmad could no longer work as a manufacturing tailor. Living in Jordan as a refugee, he’s received training and resources from Humanity & Inclusion to build a successful business from home.
Originally from Syria, Ahmad was injured in the crisis when he leg was struck by shrapnel from an explosive weapon, leaving him with a physical disability. Later, he fell from the third floor of a building, breaking a vertebra and causing severe tendon spasms and pain in his leg. At the time, Ahmad had been working as a tailor for a clothing manufacturing company, but the pain in his leg made it difficult to leave home and impossible to continue the long hours his job required.
“During this time, I received strong support from my family—especially from my wife, who worked as a volunteer to stay by my side while I could not work,” says Ahmad.
Now 29, Ahmad lives in Jordan with his wife and three children, two of whom also have disabilities.
Starting a business
Ahmad’s first contact with Humanity & Inclusion’s teams was through rehabilitation services to reduce his pain and increase his mobility. He was later referred to Humanity & Inclusion’s livelihood support activities to identify employment opportunities.
“We visited Ahmad at home to learn about his economic situation and his skills,” explains Shaima Anabtawi, Humanity & Inclusion’s inclusive livelihood officer. “He explained that he wanted to improve his English skills, understand his rights as a person with a disability, increase his ability to communicate and learn to better integrate into society. He also showed a great interest in continuing tailoring, and wanted to start his own business. We developed an individual action plan based on the assessment and his aspirations.”
Ahmad had only attended primary school, where he learned to read and write, but his education had stopped there. Ahmad began training courses designed to support his business plan, budget development and teach him how to be self-employed. Throughout the process, he also received coaching, mentorship and financial assistance from Humanity & Inclusion. With that support, he purchased a sewing machine, scissors, an iron and fabric. To reach more customers, Ahmad also learned essential computer skills to promote his products online through e-marketing and social media.
Ahmad in his home sewing studio with one of his children during a visit with Humanity & Inclusion staff.
Today, Ahmad operates his own sewing business from home. Initially, he planned to make only blankets, bed covers, pillowcases, and Arabic sofas, but he is now expanding his business to include women’s clothing. Only one month after starting his home business, he was able to buy a second sewing machine for his wife. They hope to work together to continue growing the business and meet more orders as a team.
The income he receives has enabled him to purchase a walking frame and cane to help him move around. He is also proud that he can make some changes for his family.
“My previous house was small and there was humidity in the walls, which is not healthy for my children,” he explains. “After selling enough products with my home business, it gave me the push to change my house. We now live in a bigger, healthier house than before.”
Ahmad plans to share his success with his community as well.
"Currently, I have an agreement with one of the local organizations to teach sewing and tailoring to women, and I am happy to support anyone who needs help in sewing,” Ahmad continues. “I am very grateful to Humanity & Inclusion for supporting persons with disabilities.”
Cuba | Family-owned upholstery business receives a boost with modern equipment
In Santiago de Cuba, Humanity & Inclusion supports the economic inclusion of people with disabilities. Pedro, who lives with hearing loss, has received a donation of equipment to expand his family’s upholstery business. This is his story:
My name is Pedro Alberto Mora-Lopez. I have been partially Deaf since I was a child. At the age of 14, I learned the upholstery and leatherwork trade and I practice it with passion. I enjoy working with fabric and leather to make cushions, mattresses and other things.
Some social workers came to tell me about the livelihood project that Humanity & Inclusion is implementing for the economic inclusion and empowerment of people with disabilities and their families. I hadn’t heard of it before and was very interested in this opportunity. I was told that I could benefit from a donation of equipment to develop my business. I thought it would be nails or cord. I had no idea what to expect.
Despite my many years in the upholstery trade, I didn’t have an electric sewing machine. Every day I had to operate my old machine with my legs and feet, pushing the pedals all day long. My legs were so tired.
So, when I saw all the tools and equipment that were being donated to me, I was delighted. Through Humanity & Inclusion’s project, I was given a sewing machine, hammers, a stapler, pliers, standard needles, shoe needles, scissors, aluminum-cutting scissors aluminum, and much more.
A family-owned business
Now I can work from home with my son. My wife also wants to learn the trade. We've been married for 25 years and she really likes the upholstery business. She helps me with my work every day.
This livelihood project has given a real boost to our family business and made it much less physically demanding. It is also helping to strengthen bonds within the community and enhancing the skills and autonomy of people with disabilities and their families. We’ll be talking about it for a long time to come!
Laos | Nuan is a disability 'champion’ in her community
Living with the long-term effects of polio, Nuan faces discrimination and challenges in providing for her family. Humanity & Inclusion has provided her with seed money to raise livestock.
As a child, Nuan was bullied because of her disability. She was unable to complete her schooling because her family could not afford the fees.
Now 34, Nuan is married with children. She is a farmer, but because of her disability and the fact that her husband also has health problems, they do not earn enough to pay for their son's education or save money for emergencies.
Through Humanity & Inclusion’s livelihood support project, Nuan receives financial assistance for her livestock operation. She currently has 14 ducks, 12 chickens and two pigs.
"Even though we do things differently from other people, we should not be despised and discriminated against because we have a disability,” Nuan says. “We want to be independent, not to be a burden. I really appreciate all the efforts made to improve the living conditions of people with disabilities.”
With Humanity & Inclusion, she has participated in a training course on disability and inclusion and is now a disability “champion” in her village.
Because of her can-do attitude, Nuan has been asked to lead the village women's union. She helps other people with disabilities or mobility problems. When the village receives donations of food or clothing, she helps distribute it to the community and ensures that people with disabilities are given equal treatment.
Nepal | Kabita breaks down stereotypes with her business
Kabita, 21, lives in Banke, a district in the southern plains of western Nepal. When she was younger, she acquired a physical disability in a road accident. Kabita's physical disability and the inaccessible education system prevented her from continuing school, like many girls in her community. As a child, she experienced societal stigma and discrimination.
"I never had a chance to play with other children, attend a marriage function and party," Kabita says. "I could not participate in our cultural rituals in the village. I never wanted to attend and participate anywhere due to my functional limitations and the behaviors of family and community members."
Her strong determination, combined with family support and participation in the ENGAGE project in 2018, manifested changes in her life. Through the project managed by Humanity & Inclusion and partners, she attended a bridge class for nine months, enhancing her literacy and math skills. Later, she decided to pursue a career as an e-rickshaw driver, a male-dominated profession.
Kabita sometimes became discouraged because of misconceptions: "You can't drive a rickshaw; it's a hassle to get to the market; handling passengers is difficult; you can't sustain in the market," Kabita explains. Kabita and her family were visited regularly by Humanity & Inclusion's team and its local partner staff who provided counseling to help overcome the barriers. With support from the project, she learned to drive and received start-up funds to purchase an e-rickshaw. Kabita succeeded in breaking the stigma associated with disability and the prevailing gender stereotype about her profession of choice.
"I make really good money and I provide service to people," Kabita says.
Kabita is now confident in her profession and earns 1,000 to 1,700 Nepalese Rupees—$7 to $14 USD—each day. Having already paid six installments, she is saving money for extra batteries and maintenance of the rickshaw. She has set an excellent example that girls with disabilities can pursue their dreams and be an inspiration to others.
“Women with disabilities are neglected in the family and society due to their limitations, and face a multitude of barriers due to lack of enabling environment," says Indra Bista, Disability Inclusion Technical Officer at Humanity & Inclusion Nepal. "They are least prioritized in social activities and career development opportunities."
"In remote villages where families live in vulnerable conditions, women with disabilities are more vulnerable than other members of the family," Bista adds. "Whether it's access to education, health and livelihood, they are always denied their rights."
This story is part of the Empowering a new generation of adolescent girls with education- ENGAGE project, which aims to support girls in gaining a quality education and developing skills to earn a decent living. This initiative has been made possible with funding support from UK Aid through the Girls Education Challenge (GEC), as well as leadership from VSO. It is run by Humanity & Inclusion and its local partner organization, Disabled Empowerment and Communication Center, Banke.
Laos | Mr. Khamphong expands cattle operation with livelihood support
Mr. Khamphong has been living with a disability since 2006, when he lost mobility due to health issues with his leg. He runs a cattle operation to generate income, with the support of Humanity & Inclusion.
Mr. Khamphong lives in the Houphan Province in eastern Laos. Before he acquired a disability, he made a living from farming and selling seasonal forest products he collected. He was very involved in his community and even served on his village’s security team.
In 2006, at the age of 23, he developed acute gout in his left leg and needed surgery. His health worsened when he developed a post-surgical bone infection in his ankle.
Today, at the age of 39, Mr. Khamphong has a deformity in his leg that causes him great pain and reduces his mobility. His income has decreased because he can’t work as much, and he can no longer carry out his duties on the security team.
"People with a disability have a much harder life than others,” Mr. Khamphong says. “It's not funny when someone mocks you by imitating the way you walk. We can do a lot of things. We just need support to improve our living conditions."
To generate more income, Humanity & Inclusion has provided Mr. Khamphong livelihood support for his cattle operation.
Despite his limited mobility, Mr. Khamphong has never given up and works hard to support his family. In addition to raising cattle, he dreams of opening to a motorbike repair shop to earn more money to support his family.
Mali | Climate change forces farmers to work overtime
As a farmer, Fadimata Walet, relies on regular rainfall to provide for her 10-person household in Mali. Fadimata shares the challenges she’s facing as a result of environmental changes.
I work as a farmer, which serves as the main source of income for my family. We practice rain-fed agriculture, so we sow our seeds in the wintertime.
The rains used to be abundant, and so were the harvests. I was able to repay the credit I took out to prepare for the agricultural season and I had enough left over to cover six to eight months of my family's millet (a grain rich in fiber) needs. Over the years, we have noticed a decrease in the frequency and quantity of rain. The harvests became worse and even our finest seeds produced almost nothing.
There is a pond that used to fill up during the winter period, and the water is used by the women for market gardening. Before, it could last three to four months without drying up. But these last years, it barely stays one month after the winter. So, we have no choice but to reduce the area that we cultivate.
‘Trying to adapt’
Faced with this situation, I have had to take on more work. I started cultivating more diverse plant species, hoping to have a quantity of harvest that could cover me for two or three months. I started to grow vegetables that I sell with the help of my daughter. I also sell firewood and charcoal that I bring from the bush to provide for my family. I offer my services as a cook for ceremonies, and I had to resort to large debts and a loan to revitalize my small business.
I didn't need all this before, because the rains were abundant and sustained us. I know many families who go to the Mbera refugee camp in Mauritania after the harvest, where they receive food donations from NGOs because their crops are not enough. We hope that things will improve for us, but for the moment we are doing our best with what we have.
Times are hard and we are trying to adapt, but it is very hard to hold on for many of us. I know today that my situation is better than many other families who do not have support.
For two years now, I have been receiving financial support from Humanity & Inclusion, which is enough to cover my family’s food needs. I have a smile on my face because I am relieved from having to borrow, beg or go into debt to feed by family. I have also been able to buy some garden supplies to cultivate my millet field and harvest the vegetables my daughter sells at the market. Without this project, many households would be starving. Today, I am able to meet the needs of my family and am gradually returning to a normal life.
Supporting families impacted by climate change
In Mali, Humanity & Inclusion works to support households and communities like Fadimata’s by reinforcing their resilience to the risks of food and nutrition insecurity in response to climate change.
The organization provides financial support to families for daily necessities, strengthens malnutrition prevention community groups and implements infant and child dietary advice through community specialists. The project also supports local initiatives and community projects and reinvigorates spaces for dialogue between local leaders and affected citizens to promote the shared management of natural resources.
Global Disability Summit | Ensure disability inclusion is not just a tick mark
One billion persons have a disability worldwide, but meaningful inclusion remains a challenge.
In this Q&A, Ruby Holmes, an inclusive governance global specialist for Humanity & Inclusion, expands on the organization’s commitments ahead of the Global Disability Summit, which will be held virtually Feb. 15-17.
What is the Global Disability Summit?
The Global Disability Summit (GDS) is the second summit of its kind. The first one brought stakeholders from different governments, civil society organizations, the UN and organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) together in 2018, to discuss disability inclusion and inclusive development.
Disability inclusion is a key topic: about 1 billion persons, that is 15% of the global population, have a disability – and this is only an estimate due to lacking global disability data. Persons with disabilities are the largest minority group in the world.
Because of a lack of awareness amongst governments and service providers, persons with disabilities face many barriers, such as accessibility factors. However, one of the main barriers is attitudinal, as they face a lot of stigma and discrimination. One of the major challenges today is awareness raising, to show that persons with disabilities have equal rights and must have access to services just like everybody else.
Why is the GDS a key moment for inclusion and disability rights?
The GDS is important because of the momentum that the disability rights movement is gaining globally. We really want to keep those conversations, those partnerships going. It is also extremely important to hold stakeholders accountable to implement their commitments and ensure they are including persons with disabilities and OPDs in all of their programs, policies and initiatives.
A report by the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities found that between 2014 and 2018, less than 2% of international aid was disability relevant. So international stakeholders must really continue to support funding, providing more direct support to OPDs and pay them for their expertise.
What are HI’s commitments for the GDS?
Inclusive health, inclusive education and inclusive humanitarian action are part of the topics and themes that were produced by the Summit Secretariat. They are also pillars to Humanity & Inclusion's work and interventions.
In inclusive education, Humanity & Inclusion commits to working with local education actors to train teachers to include students with disabilities. The work will include a focus on supporting children and young people with a range of diverse and complex needs, such as intellectual disabilities, communication impairments and psychosocial disabilities. Humanity & Inclusion commits to developing a guidebook and toolkits within the next two years, to developing research on the itinerant teacher and support mechanism model, and to applying these innovations in at least five new flagship projects over the next two years. Amongst other actions, Humanity & Inclusion also commits to advocating for financing efforts, to strengthen inclusive education systems and increase investments, in international platforms and networks.
For the health sector, Humanity & Inclusion is focusing on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Among other items, the organization is committing to develop at least four new inclusive SRHR projects over the next four years, through meaningful participation of organizations of persons with disabilities. In addition, through continued and renewed advocacy with key partners, Humanity & Inclusion commits to influence at least four policies, strategic planning or budgeting processes in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom and European Union in the next 4 years.
Inclusive humanitarian assistance
Persons with disabilities are routinely ignored during disaster preparedness and often left behind when disaster strikes. More climate-induced disasters will increase the vulnerability of persons with disabilities. To fight against that, Humanity & Inclusion is committing to support persons with disabilities to meaningfully participate in humanitarian responses. By the end of 2025, the organization will develop, pilot and share two sets of tools for field professionals and three lessons learned from case studies.
Humanity & Inclusion has also created a commitment on meaningful engagement and sustained partnerships with OPDs across all of its projects. Throughout livelihood and education initiatives, Humanity & Inclusion will implement capacity building on advocacy and inclusive policies in five countries by the end of 2026. The organization has also made a commitment on acknowledging disability, gender and age as cross cutting components and critical vulnerability factors for populations affected by sudden onset or long-term crisis or poverty. Recognizing the diversity of the disability community, Humanity & Inclusion is committing to implement its disability, gender and age framework within all its projects by the end of 2023, to ensure that further marginalized groups, such as persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, receive equal opportunities and representation in all initiatives.
The meaningful participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities is also key in many other topics, such as climate action and disaster risk reduction. Humanity & Inclusion attended COP—a global climate change summit—in Glasgow in 2021 and disability inclusion was not at all on people’s radar.
What outcomes is HI expecting of the GDS?
We need to increase the scale and ensure that disability inclusion is meaningful, not just a tick mark. Humanity & Inclusion is definitely advocating for more funding on inclusion projects. The organization also wants stakeholders to be intentional about disability inclusion from the very beginning and include OPDs in the design of their projects.
Humanity & Inclusion is expecting more dedication from States, UN entities and donors to support inclusive actions. Commitments are not legally binding agreements and there was a lack of response from some stakeholders at the last summit. For this summit, there has to be more pressure, more follow-up. Commitments have to be much more time-bound and practical, so that they are more likely to be achieved.
What added value can HI bring?
The GDS is very aligned to Humanity & Inclusion’s work and mission. For 40 years, Humanity & Inclusion has worked alongside persons with disabilities and populations living in situations of extreme hardship, in order to respond to their essential needs, improve their living conditions, promote and respect their dignity and fundamental rights. Humanity & Inclusion is also unique in that it is working in situations of poverty and exclusion, but also conflicts and disasters. The organization’s actions encompass the thematic pillars of the summit, focusing on more development context through education and health but also working in many situations focused on humanitarian action.
Furthermore, through its disability, gender and age policy, Humanity & Inclusion is taking more of an intersectional approach to inclusion. This approach is gaining a lot of traction globally: it is an important time and momentum to look at the various identities of a person and the role they play in their everyday lives.
Why is it important to support OPDs?
Obviously, we have to stay true to the disability rights motto: nothing about us without us. How could we work on disability rights without including persons with disabilities? They are the experts of their own needs, the barriers they face and accessibility. They must play a central role in ensuring that their human rights are translated into concrete measures that improve their lives.
OPDs are a way for persons with disabilities to come together and have a united voice. That uniform voice and collective movement has really played a huge role in the traction that the disability movement has had globally.
Humanity & Inclusion has historically always partnered with local organizations, to promote their meaningful participation, equal access to opportunities and resources as well as accessibility of the environment.
For instance, Humanity & Inclusion’s teams are working in Iraq with the Iraqi Alliance of Disability (IADO). In 2019, Humanity & Inclusion supported IADO in a joint publication on a shadow report on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which helped the UN committee learn more of a civil society perspective. It led to 69 recommendations to the Iraqi government, which actually encouraged the Prime Minister to sign a decree to reserve a certain percentage of jobs for persons with disabilities.
What is HI doing to support OPDs?
Humanity & Inclusion has been supporting the implementation of the CRPD in 59 countries and currently has about 35 country projects across 25 countries, where it is working with OPDs. Humanity & Inclusion is supporting OPDs through small grants, capacity building (workshops and trainings on creating an advocacy action plan, for instance), partnership building and elevated advocacy efforts, from the local to the regional, national and international levels.
Humanity & Inclusion’s main goal is to work at the local, very grassroots level, and then support those efforts to reach the national and international level, to create networks and spark constructive dialogues. For instance, Humanity & Inclusion has a regional capacity-building program in 15 countries in West Africa. The lead OPD partner is the Western Association of the Federation of Persons with Disabilities, who is in turn supporting smaller federations of OPDs.
In most contexts, Humanity & Inclusion does not need to play the advocacy role, as the organization is only acting as a support and not replacing OPDs.
Ruby Holmes is an inclusive governance global specialist. She has been working at HI for over 3 years and represents the organization in a number of international consortiums. She is working alongside HI teams to help them support civil society and organizations of persons with disabilities, through training materials, capacity-building workshops, advocacy events, etc. She is making sure HI is partnering with local organizations and that they're being engaged in a very meaningful way.