*Ruth was carried to school by her mum, a 4km journey on rough, hilly paths. After just four days, Ruth was asked to leave as she couldn’t use the toilet without help. She wasn’t welcome.
Ruth’s lower limbs are paralysed and she shuffles along on her bottom. Both Ruth and her parents are HIV positive.
When Ruth, now aged eight, joined our Rukungiri disability project, our team visited the school and found a new headteacher in place, with a more inclusive attitude. There were several new classrooms with wheelchair ramps, but the so-called accessible toilet was located through a narrow rocky gap, up a rough uneven slope, and built to incorrect specifications. A wheelchair-user couldn’t reach the latrine or manoeuvre inside.
Our team commissioned a new toilet, and a new path, and closely monitored construction.
Ruth and her family were thrilled to receive a wheelchair – now she is mobile and off the ground. Now Ruth travels to school on a boda-boda accompanied by her mother, proudly wearing her Global Care helmet. The project also pays for lunch at school so she receives extra nutrition needed to fight HIV. Ruth still needs to be pushed in her wheelchair, but she is at school, making friends, and learning at last.
Five year-old *Timothy was born with cerebral palsy. When his father died, he was abandoned by his mother and now lives with his elderly grandparents, aunt and cousins.
When Timothy started school, the nursery section didn’t have toilets, so the children used latrines at a nearby church. During Timothy’s first term, his teacher had to leave all the other children to take Timothy to the toilet. As he cannot stand, he put his hands on the dirty latrine floor for balance. In class, he sat on the floor, as he couldn’t sit at a desk.
Our physiotherapist recommended a special seat for school and a stronger walker. A local rehabilitation centre constructed a bespoke seat with a table. The team also commissioned a full block of latrines, with one accessible cubicle, to the delight of the school.
Timothy is happy to be sitting with his classmates and joining in lessons alongside them. He is growing in confidence with his walker and can move independently to the latrine, now on the school site, safely using the handrails to balance.
His family are struggling financially. Timothy’s grandparents are both in their 80s and too frail to work, and the aunt who supported the family is now also ill at home. To ensure Timothy stays in school, our team pay his school fees.
Ruth and Timothy are just two of the children supported by ‘Building Ability in Disability’, our initiative helping children with mobility difficulties get to school in Rukungiri, south-western Uganda. In Uganda, more than 90% of children with disabilities never go to school at all, and of the fraction who do attend, only a tiny 6% complete their education. Yet education is proven to be the best way out of the poverty cycle, not just for an individual but for generations to come. Global Care is committed to helping children living in extreme poverty access education, especially children facing additional barriers, like disability, ethnic or gender discrimination, lack of appropriate adult support or long-term sickness including HIV-AIDS.