World Forgotten ChildrenWith poverty rates rising in developing countries, raising a family can be financially taxing. As 10% of the worldwide population lives on less than $1.90 per day, there are millions of individuals who cannot provide basic necessities for their children. When a child has a physical or cognitive disability, parents face an additional barrier when addressing the children’s needs. In dire circumstances, some parents are left with no choice but to place their children in orphanages. The World Forgotten Children Foundation (WFCF) focuses efforts on helping impoverished orphans, especially those with disabilities.

Orphans Living in Poverty

Globally, there are 153 million children who are orphans and a large portion of these children are found in developing countries. Additionally, it is estimated that eight to 10 million children with disabilities are living in orphanages. Orphanages in impoverished areas often lack access to adequate resources, especially for children who need extra care for specific disabilities. The facilities fall short on appropriate education, economic stability and infrastructure.

The World Forgotten Children Foundation is a nonprofit organization that focuses on addressing the link between poverty and orphaned children, with an emphasis on helping disabled orphaned children in developing countries. The organization understands the value of also addressing the needs of the community rather than simply targeting the orphaned children.

Helping Children Affected by Cerebral Palsy

In 2017, the WFCF supported the International China Concern (ICC), an organization that takes care of more than 350 children and young adults with disabilities across China, many of who have been abandoned since birth. In China, approximately two million children have cerebral palsy. This group of disorders is the most common motor disability for children and prevents an individual from properly moving and maintaining balance and posture. Children with cerebral palsy struggle to straighten their bodies enough to fall asleep due to spinal postural deformities and those with severe cases are at risk of more serious health issues if they are unable to sleep in an adequate position. Between 23% to 46% of children living with cerebral palsy suffer from sleep issues due to pain, discomfort, seizures and skin ulcers. Also, sleep deprivation can cause development problems.

The ICC’s mission is to use postural management to protect the body shape and to minimize life-limiting deformity. The WFCF funded $10,277 to provide custom-fitted sleep aid systems for 14 children. The sleep aid systems improved the children’s physical and emotional health and well-being.

Handicapes en Avant Project

Handicapes en Avant is a French charity group based in West Africa focused on improving and facilitating the everyday lives of those with disabilities. The WFCF partnered with the Dokimoi Ergatai program of Messiah College to fund $7,800 worth of equipment. Through the partnership, the project provided physically disadvantaged children with hand-powered tricycles, enabling the children to have increased mobility. Additionally, visual assist items for computers were purchased in order to support children with visual disabilities in West Africa. Also, in Burkina Faso, funding was provided for the development of the first electric tricycle for the handicapped children of the Handicapes Avant facility. Additionally, blind orphans at the Handicapes en Avant school were provided with drawing boards to make relief drawings, Braille writing tablets and several other educational materials.

Improving the Lives of Orphans

The World Forgotten Children Foundation recognizes the many challenges of orphaned children, especially those with disabilities. The organization works to amplify the health and welfare of these disabled children. Plans for more support projects are in the pipeline. One project at a time, the Foundation is improving the lives of orphans in developing countries.

Sarah Frances
Photo: Flickr

Without Limits: United Cerebral Palsy - The Borgen Project
On the home page of the United Cerebral Palsy website,, a picture of a young girl is posted. Her facial bis carefree and hopeful. Immediately above her, UCP’s logo is accompanies by the text: “Life without limits for people with disabilities.”

United Cerebral Palsy aims to remove barriers to success for people with disabilities. UCP started in 1949 in response to needs of parents of children with Cerebral Palsy by creating a network for information and resources.

Beyond Cerebral Palsy, UCP serves people with Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder and physical and mental disabilities. The organization works with over 100 other affiliates to provide services such as housing, help finding a job, technology training and family support.

United Cerebral Palsy is a civil rights movement for those with disabilities. UCP does this by ensuring the basic human right of opportunity and equal living standards through expansive networks and lobbying Congress. UCP is uniting people and organizations to give a greater voice to the disabled.

This year, UCP released “The Case for Inclusion,” which tracks progress in providing care and opportunities for the disabled. Only 15 states make support services for families with a disabled member available for at least 200 families of 100,000.

Case for Inclusion also provides rankings of states based on providing support for people with disabilities and their families. In 2014, Arizona, Michigan and Hawaii ranked in the top three. Virginia, Texas and Mississippi ranked last.

Poverty and disability are closely related. Worldwide, one billion people, over 10 percent of the world’s population, live with a disability. Around 80 percent of disabled people live in developing countries, with around 20 percent of disabled people in these countries living in poverty.

Oftentimes, lack of services provided to people with disabilities results in limited access to basic necessities, healthcare, education, employment and political participation.

The World Health Organization states that disability is both a cause and a consequence of poverty. Lack of healthcare and limited nutrition contribute to disabilities created by poverty.

According to the WHO,” Poverty may lead to the onset of health conditions associated with disability including through: low birth weight, malnutrition, lack of clean water or adequate sanitation, unsafe work and living conditions, and injury.” For instance, 20 million women become disabled because of pregnancy and childbirth complications.

Many disabled people rely on a full-time caretaker. Most often, this caretaker is an immediate family member, so along with the disabled person, two members of the household do not receive a regular income. Disability also comes with extra healthcare costs and limited access to education and employment.

With the missing income and additional cost, poverty persists.

Beyond the U.S., disabled people lack the same network that United Cerebral Palsy provides for them and their families in the U.S. Giving a voice to the disabled and improving their quality of life plays a significant role in reducing global poverty, as a significant number of impoverished are disabled.

Tara Wilson

Sources: Case for Inclusion, World Health Organization, United Cerebral Palsy, Huffington Post, Handicap International
Photo: Mandurah Mail

The goal of nonprofit group United Cerebral Palsy is to provide a “life without limits” for people with disabilities. By working with its 100 affiliates, the organization is able to help people all over the world become more independent productive citizens. Founded in 1949 by a group of parents of children with cerebral palsy, United Cerebral Palsy evolved into an organization devoted to anyone with a disability.

United Cerebral Palsy does not focus on how a person acquired a disability; rather, they will reach out to all types of people, whether the disability is due to aging, accident or the person was born with an ailment. Some of the disabilities the group works with are cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, physical disabilities, and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

This organization is proud to claim affiliation with about 100 groups in its quest to aid the disabled. These affiliates are vital to the cause and provide services such as housing, therapy, assistive technology training, early intervention programs, individual and family support, social and recreation programs, community living, state and local referrals, as well as employment assistance and advocacy. Without the help of its affiliates, United Cerebral Palsy’s outreach would be severely limited.

By focusing on the future, United Cerebral Palsy will impact even more lives. The organization teams up with other groups to develop new technologies and methods for improving the lives of those with disabilities. For example, United Cerebral Palsy is working to ensure that children unable to use their vocal cords can still communicate with innovate new voice technology.

Another resource United Cerebral Palsy provides is just as important as new technology. The group acts as a support group for friends and family of people with disability and offers forums for people to discuss and ask questions about a disability affecting his or her family. United Cerebral Palsy has a branch in each state and affiliates around the world as no one with a disability need go without the independence and wellbeing that he or she deserves.

Mary Penn

Sources: United Cerebral Palsy, Charity Navigator
Photo: United Cerebral Palsy Cleveland