I can go to school now

Be inspired by the strength and love of a mother who pushed a heavy wheelchair more than a kilometer on a sandy path to take her child to school every day.

Claudio Fauvrelle
A determinação e amor de uma mãe que empurra uma cadeira de rodas para levar o seu filho à escola
UNICEF Mozambique/Handicap International/2017/Amminadab Jean
28 March 2018

Ilídio was born in a country where opportunities for children with disabilities are very limited. For a long time, he stayed at home with his mom, or all by himself. But now he goes to school. He has friends to play with. He is learning how to write, and can even speak two languages. Ilídio dreams of driving a car one day!

When Eunice and Marta, our outreach workers, met Ilídio for the first time, he could neither move nor talk. His mother, Isabel, was working very hard to look after her small family. Raising Ilídio all by herself since he was a baby, Isabel couldn’t even afford a bus ticket to take him to the rehabilitation centre.

Speaking with Eunice and Marta, Isabel felt understood for the first time. They were not alone. Then Eunice and Marta arranged for a physiotherapist to visit them at home, to show Isabel how to do exercises with him, and they felt even happier. Thanks to the therapy, Ilídio managed to say his first few words. There was suddenly hope for Ilídio. Ilídio and Isabel felt safe and confident.

As he made more and more progress at home, Ilídio longed to be with children of his own age. The outreach workers then visited the local school and helped make sure he could enroll, despite his older age. They talked to his teachers and pupils about how to support Ilídio in class, to make sure he was fully involved in school life, just like everyone else. And it worked.

Since starting school, Ilídio has made even more progress. He now speaks Portuguese and Changana. He can read and, thanks to physiotherapy, he can even write. He moves around in his walker all by himself, and for longer distances, he uses a wheelchair. Learning in class and playing with his friends has helped him grow and blossom. His dream is to drive his own car one day. And why not?

Eunice and Marta visit Ilídio and Isabel regularly. They also are in touch with his school and physiotherapist, to make sure that, as he gets older, Ilídio is given all the help and support he needs. This year he is getting a new wheelchair, one which is better adapted to his size, and with thicker wheels for the sandy roads to school - and the adventures of life awaiting him.

"Let's create a fair and equal world for all children."

Fair’n Square é um mundo justo e igual para todas as crianças e todas as pessoas.
UNICEF Mozambique/Handicap International/2017/Amminadab Jean

With the support from the EU (European Union), one of the major players among donors in Mozambique, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works with Handicap International on the implementation of the Information, Orientation and Social Support Service (SIOAS) project since 2012 to advance the social inclusion of children and people with disabilities and to improve their access to education, health, rehabilitation and psychosocial support services. 

The SIOAS reaches out to people with disabilities, mainly through its mobile teams, in 35 of the poorest neighborhoods in Maputo, Matola and Beira and will soon also be present in Tete and Nampula; these are five of the most populous urban centers in Mozambique.
The SIOAS has a special focus on children.

By identifying people with disabilities and working directly with their families and communities, the SIOAS helps to empower them. They assess their situation and identify obstacles and opportunities. The SIOAS helps people with disabilities and their families to identify and implement sustainable solutions that respond to their specific identified needs.

The SIOAS mobile teams are composed of a field worker from the National Institute of Social Action and a member of a civil society organization - in most cases a Disabled People’s Organization.

The presence of team members from different backgrounds enables the SIOAS to reach out to people with disabilities, including those who are kept out of sight. Each team is responsible for one neighborhood.

The SIOAS use the mobilization and training of service providers in the fields of health, education and justice to address the needs of people with disabilities. It creates the conditions to enable an appropriate response to the identified needs.

Since policy decision-makers are key to the expansion of the SIOAS and the translation of piloted approaches into policies and programs, they have been involved throughout the project. During the consultative forums, government authorities, civil society and service providers have been working together to agree on concrete measures to enable social inclusion and access to services by people with disabilities.

Read more at http://fairnsquare.unicef.org.mz/