From individual sadness to collective hope

The Community-based Inclusive Development strategy was implemented in Managua, Masaya, Granada

Alaric y su mamá
13 Diciembre 2019

Alaric is a two-year-old boy who had no control over his neck or trunk when he was born. His little hands were closed and his legs crossed. His mother, Cindy Hodgson, did not understand why her son had been born with physical limitations, but she had in fact contracted Zika when she was expecting Alaric and was unaware of that virus’ effects during pregnancy.

Zika is passed on by Aedes aegypti, the same mosquito whose bites also transmit the dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever viruses. From 2017 it began to be noticed that some babies in Nicaragua had a kind of disability like microcephaly.

Cindy took her baby to therapy sessions at different rehabilitation centres to improve his condition. However, most of them were unsuccessful until he started to be attended to by the peripatetic team from the Community-Based Inclusive Development programme implemented by the organization Los Pipitos with UNICEF support.

Familia zika
Alaric accompanied by his siblings.

According to María Delia Espinoza, a UNICEF early childhood development specialist, “The objective of the Community-Based Inclusive Development programme is to strengthen the capacities of families and their support networks to provide better assistance to children with congenital Zika syndrome.”

“Alaric has improved his control of his neck, as he can hold his head up for short amounts of time,” says Cindy with an enormous smile on her face. “He can open his hands now and we do a lot of exercises for him to open them more. When they (the peripatetic team) came he was dribbling, but with the constant exercises we do with him around his mouth he doesn’t do that anymore. We, his family, now know the right positions for carrying him.”

Community-Based Inclusive Development is a community management strategy that implicitly involves the task of equalizing opportunities by building inclusive communities in which everyone, including people with disabilities, can actively participate in the community’s social, political, economic and cultural life.

Alaric con personal de Los Pipitos

“The programme has helped the whole family,” Cindy says, “because now I share caring for my son with his brothers and his father gets more involved in the stimulation and care. He also accompanies me to the training sessions given at Los Pipitos.”

This strategy’s main focus is the organization and linkage of all the social actors in a given community, with the participation of people with disabilities and their family members and organizations.

“The support the team has provided has been a great help because it has allowed me to learn how to support my child at home, taking advantage of what we do every day to help him have better control over his body,” Cindy explains“.

Equipo Los Pipitos Zika
Multidisciplinary team Los Pipitos visits Alaric and his family, to train them in stimulation.

The strategy was developed in those departments most affected by the Zika epidemic: Managua, Masaya, Granada and Carazo. The activities in the family environment have allowed 180 Zika-affected children to receive receptive and affectionate care from their families that is sensitive to their particular needs, with the families acquiring competencies for their children’s inclusive development.

The whole family is involved in the rehabilitation

The programme has promoted the participation of fathers and so far, 126 have participated in caring for their children as part of the household’s routine. Alaric now enjoys playing with his brothers and his dad. He lets them rub him and they move him from one side to another. He can now hold objects in his hands for short amounts of time, smiles, responds to his family’s caresses and recognizes the members of his family and the neighbours that visit him.