Like many Ukrainians, Nadezhda lives with compromised health conditions. After the war worsened her symptoms and displaced her from home, Humanity & Inclusion’s rehabilitation specialists helped relieve pain and restore her energy.Read more
Jonathan, 7, lives with cerebral palsy. Through corrective surgery and follow-up rehabilitation services from Humanity & Inclusion, he is able to walk on his own.
Refugees from South Sudan, Jonathan lives with his mother, Angelina, in Nairobi. Since receiving surgery, Jonathan is also attending school for the first time.
At the suggestion of a Humanity & Inclusion physical therapist, Angelina took Jonathan to see an orthopedic specialist. He received corrective surgery to straighten his legs and make it possible for him to walk. After the operation, Jonathan received a walker, which he rarely needs now unless he walks long distances.
It’s been one year since Jonathan’s surgery. Since the operation, Humanity & Inclusion’s team has been providing at-home rehabilitation care to help Jonathan become more independent. Through rehabilitation sessions, he has strengthened his muscles and improved his balance.
“They help me climb stairs and play with a ball,” Jonathan explains.
Opportunity to learn
Jonathan’s face lights up when Faith Njiru, inclusive rehabilitation field officer for Humanity & Inclusion, visits his family’s home on a cool day in July. They bump fists and he giggles as Faith poses questions about school and his teachers. He answers confidently in English, a language he is just beginning to learn. When Faith asks who Jonathan’s best friend is, he jabs his finger in her direction without hesitation.
“After his surgery, we encouraged his mother to enroll him. Now that he can walk, he’s in school for the first time,” Faith explains.
Jonathan attends classes at a school where the restrooms and playground are accessible for children with limited mobility. Angelina has noticed a number of positive changes in her son.
“He loves reading, eating and playing on the slide at school,” she says.
As for Jonathan, he has big dreams for the future: “I want to be a pilot, so I can fly!”
These activities are funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.
Avotavy used to spend all day alone because of her disability. With rehabilitation care from Humanity & Inclusion, she has improved her mobility and gained the confidence to make friends.
Avotavy, 9, lives with her mother, father, and two siblings in a tiny one-room house in Bezaha, Madagascar. Avotavy was born with a disability that affects her legs, so she is not able to walk or stand on her own. Her lack of mobility had a significant impact on Avotavy’s confidence. Though she could easily move her arms and speak, she spent most of her time sitting completely still, alone and silent in a corner.
One day, Avotavy met with Germaine, a community agent trained by Humanity & Inclusion to identify people who could benefit from rehabilitation services. She connected Avotavy’s parents to a Humanity & Inclusion partner physical therapist who helps her perform exercises and massages her leg muscles to relieve tension. They also teach Avotavy’s parents how to continue the exercises at home. After attending only three sessions, her mobility began to improve–and so did her confidence.
Community Agent Germaine with Humanity & Inclusion's physical therapist, Avotavy and Avotavy's mother.
Rehabilitation makes a difference
“She is now able to crawl, which she could never do before,” her mother explains. “She can also move her feet and sit up on her own. Now that she is moving, she has friends. She runs all around the village on her hands and knees playing games with the other children. Some days she is gone all day playing and laughing. It has made a huge difference!”
Avotavy says that her favorite game to play is “kitchen,” where she pretends to prepare meals using dirt, leaves and rocks as her main ingredients. She and her friends also play a Malagasy game called “tantara,” where they tell stories by hitting rocks together. Each rock represents a different character, similar to playing with dolls.
Avotavy’s dream coming true
Avotavy’s older sister teaches her what she learns at school, so Avotavy can write, draw, and even proudly count to 10 in French! She has always dreamed of going to school herself, but has never been able to because of her disability.
Humanity & Inclusion’s staff have helped her enroll for the upcoming school year, and they say that her mobility will have improved even more by the time classes start. Avotavy can’t wait. She says she will grow up to be a midwife one day.
As Humanity & Inclusion’s team leave Avotavy for the afternoon, her mother smiles wide and eagerly asks, “When is her next session?”
Virginie Duclos, 32, provides insight into her work as a rehabilitation project manager for Humanity & Inclusion’s emergency team. She has responded to a number of emergencies, including the earthquake in Haiti in 2021 and war in Ukraine in 2022.
Q: What is your job?
I am not based in any particular country, but I go wherever I am needed for emergencies. When there is a crisis or an emergency, I go to the country. I do what is called a "needs assessment,” seeing the number of people injured, the number of people with disabilities, the number of vulnerable people, which needs are covered or not covered by national organizations or international NGOs. Based on that, we see how we can articulate our response with what exists and what the needs are, and then implement it. Then, we recruit the necessary personnel and train them.
Q: Why did you choose to join Humanity & Inclusion?
I joined Humanity & Inclusion for two reasons. The first was for personal reasons. It was an opportunity for an interesting position, which allowed me to develop my skills. And the second was to join an NGO that shared the values I hold dear, especially that of reaching the most vulnerable populations in the rehabilitation sector.
Q: What impact does your job have?
When there is a crisis, there may be either a sudden increase in the number of injured people or an increase in the needs of people who were already in a situation of disability. The local structures—the hospitals, the public authorities—may not have the capacity to respond. Therefore, the goal is to help them, to support them, to set up new projects or to help them in their own projects to meet this need.
It has been proven for many years now that the earlier you start rehabilitation after an event that can change someone's life, the less likely it is that a disability will develop in the long run. So, it's really important to start as early as possible at the time of the crisis to avoid the development of disabilities.
Chue Por lost his arm in a landmine explosion 15 years ago. With the support of Humanity & Inclusion, he has regained his independence and advocates for explosive weapons to be banned.
In January 2007, Chue Por was fishing with friends in northeastern Laos when he pulled a landmine out of the water. It exploded in his hand. He was rushed to the hospital, where the doctors amputated his arm. His family sold all their livestock and borrowed money from their neighbors to save his life.
Chue Por, who was 18 at the time of the incident, dropped out of school because he felt too dependent and different from his friends. Because of his amputation, he could no longer work on his parents' farm or find other ways to help support his family.
Humanity & Inclusion met Chue Por in 2019 and referred him to a rehabilitation center, where he was fitted with an artificial hand and given physical therapy.
"Thanks to Humanity & Inclusion, I am supported both physically and psychologically,” Chue Por says.
Rediscovering sense of purpose
Today, Chue Por is receiving training to become a volunteer in his village and support people with mental health issues. He also participates in inclusion activities to help people with disabilities find their place in the community.
Chue Por grows rice and beans to sell, so he can support his family.
"Today I can clearly see the positive changes in my life,” he explains. “I am happy to be with my family and to look after my cattle.”
Chue Por is engaged in advocacy efforts supporting the Mine Ban Treaty, the Cluster Munitions Convention and other international frameworks to prevent the use of landmines and other explosive weapons during war.
Ahmad, 10, was born with epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Humanity & Inclusion provides him with rehabilitation services and supports his inclusion in school.
With limited movement in his left arm and hand, Ahmad has difficulty dressing, showering, using school materials and writing. He also experiencing challenges with spelling and pronunciation. As a result, Ahmad lacks self-confidence needed to make friends and speak publicly.
Ahmad is one of 144 children participating in weekly sessions at the Mousawat Center, where specialists provide psychomotor and speech therapy, psychological support and parental guidance. After three months, Ahmad’s mobility has improved and he’s become more independent in carrying out his daily tasks at school and home.
"He uses his left arm more and can wash himself,” his mother, Aisha, explains.
Ahmad is also provided with transport services and monthly cash assistance to afford food, water, medication and other basic needs.
Commitment to education
Today, Ahmad attends school regularly and is able to spell many words correctly, read and use all his school materials.
He is talking more and has already made two new friends at school. His family is happy and grateful to see him thrive.
"It is my dream to be able to provide education for my children, because it is the only way to ensure a better future for them,” says Mohammad, Ahmad's father.
Mohammad was a teacher in Syria, and is strongly committed to his children’s education. Ahmad and his family of seven fled the war in Syria and are now living in Lebanon. His father works for an electricity company in Beirut.
This inclusive education program in Lebanon is implemented by Humanity & Inclusion in partnership with the Mousawat Center. It is funded by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) in partnership with UNICEF.
A valuable member of Humanity & Inclusion’s team in Madagascar, Deriaz ensures that rehabilitation patients get the support they need.
In Tuléar, Humanity & Inclusion partners with the center for rehabilitation and prosthetic fitting at the regional hospital. Trained community agents identify individuals who could benefit from rehabilitation services, stimulation therapy and artificial limbs., then Humanity & Inclusion links them to the appropriate services, covers associated costs, organizes logistics and follows their progress.
Q: What is your role?
My name is Deriaz Christian, and I work for the Improved Continuum of Inclusive Maternal and Child Health Care and Rehabilitation project in the southwest region of Madagascar. I have been working with Humanity & Inclusion for almost three years now.
When people come to the rehabilitation center, I support them throughout the process. My role is to accompany, supervise and organize their visits. I reserve and cover the finances of their cabs and buses to travel to the center, and I book their accommodation here. I also manage the payments that cover their food costs while they are here receiving services. We oversee the whole process to make sure everyone can access rehabilitation services.
Sometimes the coordination is complicated, because there are different kinds of patients for different services, and sometimes many people come at the same time, so it’s important to know everyone well and to be organized.
Q: What do you like most about your work?
I love everything about my work! I love taking care of the people we serve because I get to have a relationship with everyone.
In my previous job, I worked with vulnerable populations, too. But here at Humanity & Inclusion, I get to work with people living in vulnerable circumstances and people who have disabilities. As someone with a disability myself, I want to help people in similar situations. (Complications from polio led to a disability that affects Deriaz’s leg.)
The patients that have had the biggest impact on me are people with total paralysis, in both their lower limbs and upper limbs. We see just how far society still has to go to be accessible for these individuals.
Q: Any final thoughts?
My message is to raise awareness in everyone, especially in people with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities. They should not hide. Instead, bring children with disabilities and people with disabilities here to the center for rehabilitation and prosthetic services that so they can be taken care of.
Mohammad Rasool manages Humanity & Inclusion’s programs in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He provides insight into the country’s dire humanitarian situation, one year after the Taliban seized power.
Since the Taliban took control of the Afghan government in August 2021, the humanitarian context has deteriorated significantly. Facing an economic collapse, devastating drought and consequences of war, people find it difficult to simply survive.
Q: What is the humanitarian situation in Kandahar today?
The humanitarian context is still complex. There has been no improvement in food insecurity and unemployment and poverty are widespread. The financial system is not fully functional, with businesses unable to access their funds in the banks, for example. Inflation, drought and recent flooding in some districts have exacerbated the situation.
Humanitarian needs are huge and have not been fully met by the assistance that the international community pledged in August 2021. As for mine action programs, funding has been cut, which is increasing the exposure and vulnerability of communities living in areas contaminated with mines and other explosive remnants of war.
Q: What is daily life like in Kandahar?
People are extremely anxious about their future. The daily life of women and girls has been very seriously affected. For almost a year now, girls have not been allowed to go to school beyond 7th grade. Thousands of girls and women are very concerned about their education and future.
Q: Is Humanity & Inclusion still able to work with and for women?
Our female staff have been able to continue working in the provincial capital and six districts of Kandahar province. The credit for this goes to our committed field staff for their active engagement with community elders and local representatives, and to the authorities for facilitating access to our life-saving activities in conflict-affected and underserved areas.
Q: What services does the Humanity & Inclusion team offer?
Humanity & Inclusion provides rehabilitation care, as the country’s health system is unable to meet the demand. Given the scarcity of physical therapy services, we have developed a 3-year training curriculum and are currently training some 120 future physical therapists. We also provide psychosocial support to many people suffering from stress and anxiety, as there are very few mental health services in the country. And we conduct risk education sessions, as the presence of mines and explosive remnants of war remain a daily threat to the population.
Lastly, Humanity & Inclusion teams in Kunduz and Herat have started distributing cash assistance to support families with the lowest income. Between six and nine allowances of $200 are being paid to 1,600 households to enable them to buy food and access basic services such as healthcare.
Q: What kinds of people do you see at the rehabilitation center?
We had more than 700 cases in June. Most of the disabilities are congenital or due to birth defects or road or domestic accidents. Fifty cases were due to injuries caused by armed violence.
Fortunately, we are not seeing any new cases of war victims. There has also been a reduction in the number of new victims of mine or explosive remnants of war accidents. This is largely due to Humanity & Inclusion’s mine risk educators who raise the awareness of thousands of children and adults in at-risk areas each month.
Rehabilitation needs in general are still huge. People come to the center every day, some of them from very far away. There are only two rehabilitation centers serving the south of the country, so for some families the journey to the center can take a whole day. Since August 2021, we have seen a significant increase in patient numbers. Now that the fighting, the roadblocks and the strict security measures have ended, more people are able to get to us. We are currently seeing more than 130 people a week at the Kandahar center.
Q: How clear is the link between disability and explosive devices in Afghanistan?
Based on the data from our center, the majority of people with acquired disabilities are victims of explosive devices, landmines and other remnants of war. In Afghanistan, disability prevalence is very high; 80% of the adult population has some form of disability due to mines and explosive remnants of war, armed conflicts or limited access to health and nutrition services.
Q: How have the activities at the center been expanded?
Last June, Humanity & Inclusion opened a Step-Down Unit at the Kandahar rehabilitation center. This unit is designed to ensure a smooth and uninterrupted transition from acute trauma care to comprehensive rehabilitation services for patients with complex injuries and a high risk of complications and permanent disability. It also provides healthcare services for musculoskeletal and neurological sub-acute conditions that require comprehensive early rehabilitation care.
The unit adopts an interdisciplinary approach (health, rehabilitation and psychosocial support services) during the early comprehensive rehabilitation phase. It also ensures the provision of psychosocial support for patients and relief for caregivers, and accompanies the recovery process through further follow-up at the rehabilitation center, outpatient care and community inclusion.
Humanity & Inclusion’s team of doctors and nurses provides a 24/7 service at the Step-Down Unit. Between June 6 and July 26 alone, they admitted and treated 56 patients: 28 men, 16 women, six boys and six girls.
Tok, 27, lost his leg in a work accident. Over the last two years, Humanity & Inclusion has provided him with an artificial limb and rehabilitation care in Laos.
Five years ago, Tok was hired to cut down a tree that was touching a power line. When the tree fell, it crushed his left leg. Tok managed to call his brother, who rushed him to hospital, but his leg was too badly damaged and had to be amputated. Tok’s acquired disability presented challenges and prevented him from performing certain everyday tasks.
In 2020, Humanity & Inclusion referred Tok to its rehabilitation center, where he received physical therapy and an artificial limb. Since then, Tok has regained independence.
Today, Tok’s living conditions have improved significantly. He can work again and has started to raise livestock. He is also employed by the Lao electricity board, collecting data on electricity consumption, distributing bills and collecting dues.
Tok has also joined a group of red mushroom producers and received training in the bamboo value chain, which has helped boost his income. In the future, he hopes to expand his farm and keep goats.
Advocating for disability rights
Tok has also received training from Humanity & Inclusion and Group for Research and Technology Exchanges (GRET) on disability rights and inclusion.
Now a community volunteer, he advocates against discrimination and promotes understanding, acceptance and awareness of the rights of people with disabilities and the importance of their inclusion. He also provides peer support.
His goal is to remove the physical barriers encountered by people with disabilities.
"People with disabilities need support to access public services and opportunities to improve their lives," Tok explains. "I have received a lot of support and it has changed my life."