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Burkina Faso

UNICEF and partners support disability rights for children and families in Burkina Faso

© UNICEF Burkina Faso/2011/Tarpilga
Asseta Djatin, seated on a hand-pedalled tricycle, prepares to try out a new motorbike donated by UNICEF through its partner, FEBAH, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso, 6 September 2011 – Asseta Djatin, now 32, was born here in Burkina Faso’s capital. She was a happy and healthy child until she fell ill at the age of six.

“I can remember one day lying on my back and not being able to get up in the morning,” she recalls. “I called out to my mother, who came to help me.”

Ms. Djatin’s parents did not understand the cause of her illness. They began to give their daughter traditional medicine in an attempt to cure her affliction. When there was no improvement, they took her to a clinic, where she was diagnosed with polio. The disease had led to irreparable paralysis in both of her legs.

“When I was younger, I used to see my older brothers and sisters leave the house to play,” says Ms. Djatin. “I used to pray to God to give me new legs so I could run and play with children of my neighbourhood, and attend school like them. It made me feel sad and frustrated.”

‘It makes us proud’

When Ms. Djatin was 12, a family friend informed her mother about the Wempanga vocational training centre for people with disabilities, and suggested that the girl be enrolled. With the help of a neighbour who also had a serious disability, she was taken to the centre every day on the back of his hand-pedalled tricycle.

“The training centre was the first time I was able to leave my house for learning,” says Ms. Djatin. One of the first things she learned at the centre was how to weave traditional Burkina Faso cloth.

The Wempanga centre was established for people of all ages and both sexes who live with a disability. Staff at the centre help clients learn life skills and trades that can allow them to become more autonomous.

“People look at us like a burden or annoying, since there are a lot of things we cannot do by ourselves,” says Ms. Djatin. “But when we can put some money together … it makes us proud.”

© UNICEF Burkina Faso/2011/Tarpilga
Motorbikes donated by UNICEF to help people living with disabilities in Burkina Faso become more autonomous.

Disability rights

With what she learned at the Wempanga centre, Ms. Djatin decided to begin taking orders of clothing from people in her community. In time she made a profit, enabling her to contribute to her parents’ income and to cover her own needs.

“With the money I saved, I was able to buy my own hand-pedalled tricycle,” she says proudly.

Today, Ms. Djatin is one of the beneficiaries of a UNICEF donation of equipment for people living with disabilities. The donation was made through FEBAH, a national disability-rights federation that has been a UNICEF partner since 2008. FEBAH comprises a number of associations of adults living with disabilities, and parents caring for disabled children.

“In line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states in its principles that every child should be given the chance to live and grow in dignity, this donation is intended to help families with a child or a parent with disability,” says UNICEF Deputy Representative in Burkina Faso Sylvana Nzirorera.

Support for the most vulnerable

The donated equipment includes two buses, a 4x4 vehicle, 20 motorbikes, 125 tricycles and some 550 kitchen utensil kits. The buses will assist families with daily transportation of more than 2,300 children with disabilities to their day care centres.

As part of UNICEF’s goal of reaching and supporting the most vulnerable women and children, Ms. Djatin has received a specially adapted motorbike, cooking gas, cooking pots and kitchen utensils. The motorbike will enable her to continue her education at evening classes that make up for her missing out on school as a child.

“I am pleased to see the brightness of the faces of those people who have received the equipment,” says Ms. Nzirorera. “This donation will make a difference in the lives of many vulnerable families.”

Sylvana Nzirorera and Priscilla Ofori-Amanfo contributed to this story.



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