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Rebuilding Education in Sierra Leone
Before the Revolutionary United Front crossed from Liberia into Sierra Leone and started the 12-year war, Sierra Leone had one of the best education systems in Africa. Rebuilding education in Sierra Leone since has been a challenge and Ebola has made it even more difficult.

Only 48.09 percent of the population above the age of 15 in Sierra Leone are literate. Primary school enrollment is over 130 percent due to the amount of non primary school aged Sierra Leoneans who are attending classes because they missed out on educational services during the war. The UN estimates that 64 percent of primary aged children are enrolled in school.

During the 12 years of the war, there was no education unless the families fled to Guinea or Liberia. Out of the crisis of the civil war came an opportunity to ensure education would grow and enhance the livelihoods of Sierra Leoneans.

The Netherlands provided funding to the Cross Border Schools Project in Sierra Leone and has trained over 3,000 educators. After completing the training programs, teachers plan their own lessons and find their teaching methods are making a bigger impact.

Education in Sierra Leone is taken seriously by the government. Sierra Leone spends 14 percent of its national budget on education, which is much higher than most other countries in the region.

Other improvements have been made as well. 76 percent of Sierra Leonean children complete primary school and many go on to junior secondary education. However, 50 percent of primary school teachers still have no qualifications.

It cost $20 to send a Sierra Leonean to school and 70 percent of Sierra Leone families are living on less than a dollar a day. Poverty, child marriage, pregnancy and sexual abuse are the most significant barriers to education for girls in Sierra Leone.

UNICEF works on ensuring girls are attending school through building classrooms, providing sanitation facilities, training teachers and providing learning materials. The rights of girls in the classroom are protected through rights-based and gender-sensitive environments that helps girls succeed in the classroom.

Sierra Leone is still healing from the wounds left by the Revolutionary United Front during the civil war, but education is gradually improving and the youth are benefiting from the revival of education.

Donald Gering

Sources: Al Jazeera, Global Partnership, Social Progress Imperative, UNICEF 1, UNICEF 2, UNICEF 3
Photo: Just Giving

world_food_program
The World Food Programme is waging war on hunger and fighting an uphill battle in six of the world’s hunger hot spots; Syria, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan, Nepal and the Ebola affected regions in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Most of the world’s population live in developing countries. Many of them are mired in extreme poverty, with little hope of access to clean water and often reduced to scavenging for food in trash heaps lining their decrepit shanty town streets, just to feed their children. But in these six emergencies, the situation is even more urgent.

The World Food Programme (WFP), the world’s largest humanitarian aid agency fighting hunger is the food aid branch of the United Nations, working to address hunger across the globe and promoting food security. Workers are on the ground in these areas trying to ease the crisis by providing needy families with life-saving food.

In Syria, the WFP is struggling to meet food need demands as nearly six million people have been displaced. The ongoing armed conflict in Syria has been growing worse and the situation steadily deteriorating. Although the WFP has been reaching approximately 4 million people using hand to mouth operations, funding is running low and the need is increasing drastically.

Iraq has been in crisis for years and continues to be. Recent upsurge in violence has left one point eight million displaced without access to water or food. The WFP reports to have reached out to about a million people since June, providing assistance.

Yemen is a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian emergency. With around half of all children under five being stunted; too short for their age, Yemen already stands as having one of the highest child malnutrition rates in the world. Millions of people are being cut off from basic human needs such as food, water and electricity as fighting persists and fuel shortages continue.

Although the food security threat in South Sudan has been stabilized for now sustainable assistance is essential in the region as the situation remains extremely fragile. The WPF has been able to reach more than 2.5 million people this year but if fighting continues, the situation in South Sudan could turn into a full blown catastrophe.

The seven point eight magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25th 2015 devastated the region leaving approximately eight million people affected, living without access to food, water or shelter. With the epicenter being just outside of Kathmandu, large populations were displaced and 30 out of 75 districts in the country were ruined. The Nepalese government issued a state of emergency and the WFP is currently in the country providing assistance.

The WFP has responded in force to the Ebola emergency plaguing West Africa and has met the needs of people affected by the outbreak since April in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Along with food assistance, the WFP is also helping get the humanitarian staff and equipment into the crisis zones.

According to www.worldhunger.org the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that about 805 million people of the seven point three billion people in the world, or one in nine, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2012-2014. Almost all the hungry people, 791 million, live in developing countries, representing 13.5 percent, or one in eight, of the population of developing counties.

When disaster strikes, or when war tears through a nation, humanity can be taken to the breaking point. With help from organizations like the World Food Programme, families fighting for survival can find some relief, and possibly some hope.

Jason Zimmerman

Sources: WFP, World Hunger
Photo: Action Against Hunger

Youth

We are always told that children are the future; that to have a successful future we must invest in them, giving them the opportunities and the education they need and deserve. The youth makes up 43% of the world’s population. This means there is large potential force out there that can change the world. Of these youth, 90% live in the developing world. That means there is a huge importance to reach these youths. If given the proper tools, they could change poverty in their countries.

Ensuring that children in developing nations have the access to education is crucial. By attending school, boys and girls learn skills that enable them to find professions besides agriculture and mothering, respectively. It gives them a sense of empowerment and self esteem.

Government leaders and organizations have seen successful in addressing policies and programs for the young populations of their countries. The key is to “create and support the enabling conditions under which young people can act on their own behalf, and on their own terms.”

The United Nations has implemented Youth Empowerment and Employment Programs across the developing world. The programs work to provide business development and career advice to youth. There are three goals that the programs hope to address. First, institutional and policy development to ensure that governmental policies passed help youth gain employment. Second, the programs empower youth by creating and working with existing youth councils and youth leadership positions. Lastly, the programs provide employment and job experience by providing internships and directing student graduates to jobs.

In Sierra Leone, the results of these programs have been positive and have expanded businesses. In one community, there have been 204 jobs created, 400 students (half being women) supported to create their own businesses and 150 interns placed in 20 institutions. Both men and women had access to the resources and saw success as the numbers show that about half of the empowered youth were women.

In the end, giving the youth an education and training provided them opportunities to flourish. They were able to use their skills and make better lives for themselves. They were able to find jobs, which means that they were not left in dire poverty. Empowering the youth not only helps them to feel successful, it helps the local community by growing the economy.

Katherine Hewitt

Sources: OECD, UN, UNCSD 2012, UNDP
Photo: AANF

Fighting_Ebola_in_Sierra_Leone

It is the holy month of Ramadan in Sierra Leone and attendance at religious services was up from the rest of the year on Friday. Sermons provide the best platform for educating the general population about the Ebola epidemic and religious leaders are using faith to fight Ebola in Sierra Leone.

In a country that has witnessed Ebola’s devastating effects, religious leaders from all walks of life have come together to work to end the epidemic. Of the 27,479 confirmed cases of Ebola reported by the World Health Organization, over 13,000 have been reported in Sierra Leone.

The Freetown-based NGP, Focus 1000 came up with the idea to use interfaith dialogue to educate citizens about the dangers of Ebola.  In a country that is 78 percent Muslim and 21 percent Christian, it has been one of the most successful means of combating the deadly disease.

One of the main causes of the unprecedented spread of Ebola, was the lack of understanding that Ebola spread through bodily fluids even after the victim had died. Muslim and Christian burial rites composed of family members washing the deceased patients. Coupled with mistrust of the government and aid workers body disposal protocols, it created a situation where infections were being passed along routinely.

Ramadan Jollah, the chief Imam of the Jam’iyatul Haq Mosque in Freetown explained, “Sierra Leone has a clear understanding of what religion really is — that religion is not there to create problems between people but instead to bring people together.” Together, Muslim and Christian leaders have used their anointed trust to help their communities follow health protocols.

The Imam has used verses of the Qur’an to appeal Ebola prevention tactics. The Qur’an allows Muslims who are martyred to be buried in their clothing without being washed. He quotes the Prophet of Islam imploring Muslims to wash their hands regularly.

Similarly, Reverend Christiana Sutton-Koroma addresses her congregation in a small church. The Reverend quotes passages from the Bible’s Book of Numbers – prohibiting people from coming into contact with corpses that can infect them.

She dispels myths of burial washing and also avoiding seeking care in case of infection.  Members of her congregation take her message very serious and many go home to spread the message to their families, friends, and neighbors.

International NGO’s such as World Vision have followed suit, creating venues for Muslim leaders to address Christian congregations and vice versa.  It is not uncommon in Sierra Leone to have multi-faith families.  Christians pray for their sick Muslim neighbors in churches and Muslims pray for their Christian counter-parts in mosques.

The tactics are working. Sierra Leone, while having the most cases of confirmed Ebola, has also the least mortality percentage in comparison to their neighbors in Guinea and Liberia.  New cases have begun to rapidly decline.  In May 2015, the country declared itself Ebola free for the first time.  Although it did not last long, progress is being made.

USAID has pledged to send US $126 million to the three countries-Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea- to strengthen their health care systems by providing crucial support such as vaccines and vitamins.  The United Nations says US 88.1 million dollars is needed to support the “last mile” of the international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.  Foreign Aid, coupled with faith, are fighting Ebola in Sierra Leone, and together they are winning.

– Adnan Khalid

Sources: Al Jazeera, Ebola Deeply, USAID, World Health Organization, World Vision International 1, World Vision International 2
Photo: Caritas

sierra_leone_ban
In 2010, Sierra Leone banned visibly pregnant girls from attending school. Schools were shut down for nine months during the Ebola outbreak, but reopened again on April 14, 2015, with the ban still in place.

The ban is in effect because visibly pregnant girls supposedly set a bad example for their classmates. Sierra Leone’s minister of education, Minkailu Bah, argued that “innocent girls” could be influenced by those who are pregnant and pregnancy rates could increase.

Bah’s statement is far from the truth. Having pregnant classmates would most likely cause a drop in pregnancy rates. NPR explains that teen pregnancies in the United States dropped almost 6 percent from watching the MTV show, 16 and Pregnant. Girls who see their classmates pregnant would be less likely to become pregnant themselves.

Sierra Leone is one of the most dangerous places for expectant mothers, with high rates of maternal and child mortality. One-third of pregnant women in Sierra Leone are teenagers. The teenage pregnancy rates and incidences of maternal and child mortality were decreasing before Ebola, but have increased once again. Incidences of sexual violence rose during the Ebola epidemic, and girls, especially those who had lost a relative to Ebola, traded sex for supplies to help them survive.

The ban on educating pregnant girls is also detrimental because many girls see pregnancy as a turning point and are encouraged to work even harder to get an education because they know that they will have to support themselves as well as their children. The fact that girls who are inspired to get an education are not allowed to access it is extremely worrisome. If Sierra Leone lifts its ban, it will give these girls an opportunity to support themselves.

The ban also fails to acknowledge girls who are pregnant as a result of rape. Seventeen-year-old Isatu Gbanky was a student in Sierra Leone but was not allowed to return to school after it reopened because she was pregnant. Isatu said, “I was raped by a fellow student. He forced me to have sex while I was fetching water for my family. I hope the government makes an exception for girls like me.”

Isatu’s story is unfortunately not unique, but the government has yet to lift the ban on pregnancy for either rape victims or those who became pregnant through consensual sex. However, there is hope that the ban will end soon. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Irish Aid and the Department for International Development are working with Sierra Leone, and may be able to come to an agreement over a temporary solution which would involve pregnant girls getting a formal education outside the classroom. Since teenage pregnancy rates in Sierra Leone are so high, if this agreement is reached, it will be extremely significant for education levels throughout the country.

Pregnant girls attending school does not cause higher pregnancy rates. If Sierra Leone wants to lower its rate of teenage pregnancies, it needs to focus on making school cheaper and more accessible, rather than banning pregnant girls who want to attend. Girls who know that they can gain an education and have a future are less likely to get pregnant and more likely to focus on their schooling.

Ashrita Rau

Sources: The Guardian, NPR, VOA, NY Times
Photo: The Huffington Post

maternal_mortality
Sierra Leone, a small country on the West African coast, gained independence from Britain in 1961. Ranked as the least developed country in the world in 2007, poverty and maternal mortality are some of the main problems that Sierra Leone faces today.

As of 2010, Sierra Leone had a maternal mortality rate (MMR) of 857 per 100,000 live births, making it one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women to give birth. This high maternal mortality rate was mainly due to hemorrhages, a cause of 26 percent of maternal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. Since Sierra Leone only collects annually one-forth of the blood it needs for transfusions, hemorrhages are a major danger during childbirth. Other contributors to the high MMR are obstructed labor, anemia and toxemia during pregnancy.

Approximately 73 percent of births in Sierra Leone occur in rural areas, where access to health care during pregnancy is normally limited and maternal healthcare does not have as many beneficial outcomes compared to healthcare in urban areas. Many women who need cesarean sections do not receive them, due to the fact that even if a birth attendant is present, many birth attendants are actually aides who do not have the qualifications to perform a cesarean section or to do other tasks that are necessary to help the mothers survive.

Maternal mortality is also prevalent because of a lack of sanitation. Traditional practices also play a cause, since many communities choose home-births instead of modern health care facilities.

Another cause of maternal mortality in Sierra Leone is the high rate of adolescent marriages. Forty-four percent of girls in Sierra Leone marry before they reach the age of 18. Adolescents are more likely to suffer during pregnancy and childbirth, as their bodies are normally not developed enough to carry a baby and deliver safely.

Contraceptive use is also not widespread in Sierra Leone, contributing to Sierra Leone’s high MMR. Only about 7 percent of women use contraceptives, leading to a high fertility rate of 5 children per woman. This contributes to more children and more pregnancy related complications.

In 2010, in order to reduce the MMR and the high rate of children’s deaths in Sierra Leone—almost one-third of children died before they reached their fifth birthday as of 2007—the government of Sierra Leone implemented a policy that would provide free healthcare for pregnant and lactating women and for children under the age of five. This policy led to increased amounts of antenatal care visits immediately after it was introduced, but antenatal care visits decreased once again a few months later, and the policy was not as impactful as hoped.

Therefore, despite the 2010 healthcare act, Sierra Leone is still facing high rates of maternal mortality and a high rate of deaths among children under 5. However, there is hope. Thanks to a now thriving mining industry and a GDP that is growing, Sierra Leone’s economy is looking up. Hopefully, these economic benefits can be invested in the healthcare industry and can help contribute to the supplies and care that pregnant women and their children need.

– Ashrita Rau

Sources: The Borgen Project 1, The Borgen Project 2, Amnesty International, UNFPA, WHO 1, WHO 2, The Guardian, ICRW
Photo: Flickr

sierra_leone
For some students in Sierra Leone’s capital of Freetown, the nine months of not attending school was agonizing. These last months were filled with uncertainty about their communities as well as their own futures. Fortunately, with a sharp decline in reported cases of Ebola, Sierra Leone’s government has decided to reopen the nation’s schools, giving Sierra Leone’s 1.8 million children a safe environment where they can learn.

Ebola has claimed the lives of over 3,400 people in Sierra Leone and more than 10,500 throughout regions of West Africa. The effects on families have been devastating; at least 8,600 children have lost one or both parents to the virus.

UNICEF official reports said, “The Ebola epidemic has hit schoolchildren and teachers heavily. Preliminary results of a school needs assessment survey by the Government suggest that 181 teachers and 945 students died of Ebola virus disease, while 597 teachers and 609 students contracted the disease but survived.”

With major districts not having reported a new case in over 21 days and only 9 confirmed cases as of April 12, school-aged children are returning to classrooms in Sierra Leone amidst these positive indicators. Many schools opened their doors on April 13 and though the number of returning pupils is small, school officials expect numbers to grow as parents’ fears of infection subside and more people become aware of the precautions that are being taken.

With the help of UNICEF, Sierra Leone’s government has put into place the necessary precautions for avoiding the deadly Ebola virus. The first few days of school were spent learning about Ebola and other basic hygiene practices. Teachers and students are also being advised to avoid close, bodily contact and each morning as students arrive on campuses, their temperate is taken with a digital thermometer.

UNICEF reports, “UNICEF has supplied 24,300 hand washing stations to reduce the chances of infections. UNICEF has also trained 9,000 schoolteachers in Ebola prevention, safety guidelines and psycho-social support.”

Not attending school has had a variety of impacts on school-age children in Sierra Leone. Many students who returned to classes last week have forgotten a lot of material previously learned and teachers have spent a lot of time reviewing. Other students did not attend schools at all due to their responsibilities at home or working to support their families. However, UNICEF and Sierra Leone’s government has worked together to reduce these effects by providing radios and 41 radio stations that broadcast daily educational programs.

Not only are Sierra Leone schools pushing for the return of its students before the outbreak, but also for the enrollment of some 233,000 primary school-age children who have never attended school. With the hope of boosting enrollment, Sierra Leone’s government has announced that it will pay school fees for the next two years.

Children throughout Sierra Leone are excited for the former glories of school to return, like playing games with one another and greeting their friends, but they are thankful that they are finally able to learn and dream about their futures again.

Candice Hughes

Sources: BBC, The Guardian, UNICEF, WHO
Photo: Flickr

West Africa Ebola
West Africa is experiencing the first decrease in Ebola cases in three weeks, recording 128 new cases between Feb. 8 and Feb. 15, according to the World Health Organization. However, dwindling funds, a long rainy season and improper burials are making it difficult to control the disease.

The current Ebola epidemic began a year ago in Guinea, and spread throughout West Africa. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are the worst-affected countries, but are also seeing steady decreases in Ebola case numbers since the beginning of the year.

Guinea recorded 52 new Ebola cases in the week of Feb. 8. In August and September 2014, Liberia experienced over 300 new Ebola cases per week; during the week of Feb. 8, Liberia recorded only two new confirmed cases. Sierra Leone now holds the highest infection rate, experiencing up to 248 new Ebola cases per week; however, in January, the numbers declined to 118. During the week of Feb. 8, Sierra Leone confirmed 74 new cases, 54 of which were in Sierra Leone’s capital of Freetown.

The life-threatening disease has caused other problems throughout West Africa. Farming and food production has slowed, numerous roads have been closed, bans have been put on travel and families have been displaced or torn apart.

Experts blame ignorance and fear for contributing to the disease’s rapid spread in West Africa in the worst outbreak on record. There have also been violent attacks on healthcare facilities and workers despite large-scale education campaigns.

However, the decline in cases are already bringing positive effects. President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone announced in January that the country was lifting the travel restrictions it had implemented in an effort to contain the virus.

West Africa’s year-long Ebola outbreak has now killed over 9,365 people from among 23,218 cases recorded, mainly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

One challenge has risen from seemingly good news: funding. Officials say that international financial support has also decreased with the number of Ebola cases. Officials say that $1.5 billion is needed to combat the disease for the next six months, and so far only $482 million has been pledged.

Alaina Grote

Sources: New York Times, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Photo: Flickr

education in sierra leone school system
Education in Sierra Leone has been a challenge. The devastating Sierra Leone Civil War that lasted from 1991 to 2002 took the nation’s education system as an early casualty, wiping out 1,270 primary schools and forcing 67 percent of all-school aged children out of school in the year 2001. More than a decade later, education in Sierra Leone is still recovering from the destruction caused by the conflict. The first nine years of education are compulsory, but this law remains virtually impossible to enforce due to the shortage of facilities left in the war’s wake. The West African nation continues to struggle with its school system and the difficult tasks of rebuilding schools, training teachers, and educating children who have never stepped foot inside of a classroom.

The system of education in Sierra Leone comprises three basic levels: primary, junior secondary and senior secondary. All six years of primary education are free of cost. Students begin junior secondary school around the age of 12 and remain at that level through age 15. Girls living in rural areas typically have the toughest time reaching this level of schooling due to cultural beliefs that often discourage their participation. Students enroll in senior secondary schools from the ages of 15 to 18, and it is at this level that they may choose to between continuing their academic education with plans of proceeding to university or focusing on vocational training. Most vocational education programs focus on agricultural skills, followed by other proficiencies like mechanics, carpentry and bricklaying. Students wishing to pursue a university degree in Sierra Leone have two options to choose from: Njala University and the University of Sierra Leone.

 

The Hurdles Facing Sierra Leone’s School System

 

Despite these opportunities, education in Sierra Leone continues to face significant hurdles. More than 40 percent of primary school teachers are untrained. There is also a massive shortage of textbooks, and it is not uncommon for four or five students to share a single book. The literacy rate among 15 to 24-year-olds is below 60 percent, and the total adult literacy rate is even lower, at about 43 percent. Secondary school participation is low, with a net attendance ratio from 2008 to 2012 of 39.9 percent for boys and 33.2 percent for girls.

 

The Good News about Education in Sierra Leone

 

However, this is not to say that Sierra Leone has failed to improve from the initial damage left by the war. Education in Sierra Leone has experienced notable advances in recent years. Just after the conflict, a mere 55 percent of children were finishing primary school. That number has since jumped to 76 percent of students finishing primary school, and 77 percent of those children advancing to the junior secondary level. The youth literacy rate jumped a full percentage point from 2009 to 2010. The government of Sierra Leone spends 14 percent of its national budget on education and half of that figure is devoted to primary education.

With generous funding from the government of the Netherlands, teacher-training programs have been greatly improved in recent years with more than 3,000 teachers now enrolled in first-time or continuing courses. UNICEF’s Cross Border Schools Project, which trains teachers and school managers, is in the process of curtailing the high numbers of out-of-school children throughout the nation’s border regions.

 

Girls’ Education in Sierra Leone

 

An especially serious problem that continues to plague education in Sierra Leone is the challenge of girls’ education. Although girls’ educational access is improving, class completion remains scarce with high dropout rates and consistently low enrollment in secondary school. Early pregnancy, gender-based violence, child marriage and cultural biases propagate the cycle of gender inequality. Sierra Leone has one of the world’s highest adolescent pregnancy rates, a phenomenon that is largely responsible for the high dropout rate among girls. Girls in Sierra Leone often get married as early as age 11, and more than 60 percent of girls throughout the country are married before the age of 18. Early marriage further hinders these girls’ abilities to pursue an education and gain independence. Shortages of facilities, supplies, and quality instructors have made it virtually impossible for all children to enroll in school, and a preference for boys’ education remains dominant. Girls are often instructed to stay home and perform domestic responsibilities while their brothers head to the classroom.

While education in Sierra Leone still has a long way to go, the progress made so far has been encouraging.

– Shenel Ozisik

Sources: Global Partnership, UNICEF 1, UNICEF 2, Classbase, CIA
Photo: Free the Children

 

Learn about poverty in Sierra Leone.

Assisting_the_Disabled_Sierra_Leone
As of 2011, there are an estimated 450,000 disabled persons living in Sierra Leone. This number includes the blind, the Deaf, people living with polio, individuals who are war wounded and amputees.

The Sierra Leone Civil War of the 1990s left 1,600 amputees alone. As of yet, the Sierra Leone government has not offered any assistance to these members of society.

With 8,973 probable, confirmed and suspected cases of Ebola and a recorded 4,484 deaths across Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, the outbreak of Ebola has put these individuals at high risk of infection.  Those who are blind and Deaf and often use their sense of touch to navigate and communicate, consequently increasing their chances of infection.

Handicap International’s health coordinator, Adam Huebner said “It was inconceivable that Ebola would use up so much energy and so many available resources. All of our teams in Liberia and Sierra Leone are now focusing their efforts on controlling this virus.”

Sierra Leone and Liberia officials, as well as the CDC are both trying to control the spread of Ebola. However, volunteer health workers who are combating the outbreak through awareness and other preventative measures have been met with violence.

The paranoia of the epidemic has translated into a discrimination not just against Ebola victims but also the disabled. Kamara is a woman living on one of the Polio compounds in Makeni. She has been isolated from the outbreak physically and economically. She used to make necklaces with others on the compound to generate income.

Kamara says, “I sell them [necklaces] at the price of 20,000 but since the Ebola crisis, I don’t have customers. People marginalize us because of our disability.” Because of this most disabled are left clueless to the dangers of Ebola.

Organizations like UNDP and Handicap International have begun to reach out to disabled persons offering information and counseling about the epidemic ravaging their countries. Huebner says, “At our own level, we’re trying to open up discussions with local people so that they can ask about anything that might be worrying them and get information about what can be done to limit the number of new cases. We’re also addressing questions related to the indirect consequences of the virus.”

The UNDP has been delivering information directly to the front doors’ of quarantined individuals. In addition, UNDP officials have been handing out pamphlets in braille and informative picture brochures for those that can’t read.

These face to face encounters with UNDP officials and the members of Handicap International have afforded those in the dark to ask questions. Information is power, especially during a crisis. These groups are bringing a sense of peace to people living with disabilities. They are empowering a group of people, who very much want to be a part of the process, with their own voices.

Frederick Wood II

Sources: UNDP, Handicap-International, WHO, Journalists for Human Rights
Photo: Handicap International