A Letter from Quarantine- Children with disabilities are always isolated

A moment of reflection in a crisis that unites us all, without distinction.

Rijad Mehmeti
Rijadi and Adrijani
UNICEF/2020/L.Aliu
31 March 2020

The days are passing slowly, I won’t lie. I have my whole family by my side and everything I need to survive, even a computer from which I am getting the information about what is going on out there. But none of this is comparable to days outside my house, with my classmates, my closest friend Adrijan, attending school lessons. Surprisingly, I even miss the long school lessons.As if they had always been part of what I calls "my freedom." But only today I have come to understand this better. Perhaps all what is happening around the world will serve us more for such reflection, and not only. Not many children like me, who move around in their wheelchair, enjoy learning like I do every day, or have friends like me who has Adrian. And if today you find it hard to stay in the so-called quarantine, imagine how all my friends living with disabilities feel and how they are forced to live this way for the rest of their lives, socially isolated and distanced.

How does it feel?

Perhaps these days will help everyone, politicians and society, to reflect on this, especially on this, and to do more towards the inclusion of children living with disabilities in education and social life, to enable this for them as for everyone else. And yes, I can’t wait for it, go out of quarantine and join my friends at school, and I can barely wait to see the day when everyone will truly come out, without distinction, of the social quarantine that we have created not only today but for decades for children living with disabilities. Until then, stay home, love each other, wash your hands, and whenever you get bored and want to get out of the house,  stop, and do what we should have done every day - think about others.

Yours, Rijad.


About Rijad:

Rijad Mehmeti is 14 years old from the village of Bardhosh in Prishtina and lives with cerebral paralysis. Rijad is an advocate for children, especially those living with disabilities. He is part of a youth reference group helping UNICEF to implement the five office priorities based on the needs of children in Kosovo. Two years ago Rijad delivered a speech in the European Parliament where he raised his concerns in front of European MPs about the situation and needs of children living with disabilities.