Congo, Democratic Republic of the

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a wheelchair makes Meshak more mobile

UNICEF reports on a programme that's helping people with disabilities integrate into camps for internally displaced persons in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Watch in RealPlayer

 

By UNICEF DRC

Like all children, those with disabilities have many abilities, but are often excluded from society by discrimination and lack of support, leaving them among the most invisible and vulnerable children in the world.

On 30 May, UNICEF launched its flagship report The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities. The report brings global attention to the urgent needs of a largely invisible population.

An investment in a wheelchair and a toilet for a little Congolese boy in Lac Vert camp will pay dividends for all of society.

GOMA, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 3 June 2013 – UNICEF has made a sound investment, in a country characterized by both challenges and tremendous potential – the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Funding a toilet and a ‘tricycle’ will pay high dividends in the life of a little boy, and, therefore, for society, as a whole.

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© UNICEF Video
Through the Rapid Response to Population Movements mechanism, UNICEF and Handicap International distribute items such as crutches, walking canes and wheelchairs to internally displaced persons with disabilities in sites such as Lac Vert camp, near Goma.

Meshak, 8

Eight-year-old Meshak Batundi lives with his aunt Aline at Lac Vert, a site for internally displaced persons near North Kivu’s capital, Goma. He was separated from his mother when armed conflict reached his village, Kitchanga, in December.

Among the thousands of people displaced by conflict in North Kivu who have settled around Goma, a significant number live with a disability. Meshak is one of them – the young boy walks on his knees; polio maimed his feet and right hand.

There are accessibility problems associated with the basic services available to internally displaced persons at Lac Vert. Additional measures have been required to make sure that people living with disabilities have equal access to facilities and are able to live up to their full potential.

Meshak is mobile

A UNICEF and Handicap International programme designed to help meet these needs has provided Meshak with a ‘wheelchair’, a chair composed of three wheels, a bicycle chain and hand treadles, which has given the little boy mobility.

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© UNICEF Video
One of these people is 8-year-old Meshak. UNICEF and its partners have provided Meshak with a wheelchair that's helping him get around at Lac Vert. A special toilet has also been provided for the little boy, who has lost some mobility because of polio.

Today, Meshak is learning how to make the best out of his new gizmo. As he tries it out, he has a big smile on his face.  “I can move all by myself,” he says.

“This tool is an important step for Meshak,” says Aline Vumilia, a community health animator at Lac Vert.

Adapted toilets

Through the Rapid Response to Population Movements (RRMP) mechanism, UNICEF and Handicap International distribute items such as crutches, walking canes and wheelchairs to internally displaced persons with disabilities, like Meshak.
In addition, adapted toilets are put in place. Much like Meshak’s wheelchair, such toilets help persons living with disabilities live alongside other members of the community.

“There are persons living with disabilities who find it difficult to use the average latrines at the [internally displaced persons] site. That’s why Handicap International decided to provide them with different types of toilets to assist with mobility and walking,” explains Handicap International Physiotherapist Odette Katungo.

The wheelchair and the toilet are good news for Meshak – and for his community. As underlined by The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities, concentrating on the abilities and potential of children with disabilities creates benefits for society as a whole.
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Displaced people living with disabilities are exceptionally vulnerable. UNICEF and its partners aim to improve their living conditions at sites for internally displaced persons and with host families, until peace and security allow for their return to their villages of origin.

The RRMP assisted over 1.5 million conflict-affected people in 2012, delivering water, hygiene and sanitation services, essential household items, education and health services to families affected by displacement, return and natural disasters — including host families. In 2013, the UNICEF/Handicap International RRMP project is targeting 300 displaced persons with disabilities living at the Lac Vert and Bulengo sites for internally displaced persons, on the outskirts of Goma.


 

 

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