Jesuit Entity, UNHCR Partner to Support Refugee Children Living with Disabilities in Chad

With her new tricycle,donated by UNHCR and JRS, Sadié can move around the camp and go to class more easily.
Credit: Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS)

The international refugee organization of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has partnered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in reaching out to refugee children living with disabilities in Chad.

“With UNHCR we created a special fund to purchase tricycles, trolleys, and crutches for children with reduced mobility,” JRS Child Protection Focal Point in Chad’s Goz-Beida region, Woura Mailabele has been quoted as saying in a Thursday, January 7 report obtained by ACI Africa.

Since the creation of the fund, JRS and UNHCR officials have reached out to six children in Djabal camp and four children in Goz-Amir camp, Eastern Chad, the JRS official adds in the report titled, “Ensuring children with disabilities are not left behind.”

Among the beneficiaries of the project is 13-year-old Sadie, born in Djabal refugee camp with a paralysis in her legs that saw her delay joining school until the age of eight unlike her age mates who joined at the age of six.

“Every morning, she was forced to crawl along the dusty roads in the camp to go to school. Apart from slowing her academic progress, Sadié spent most of her time inside the house due to her lack of mobility,” the Cameroon-based leadership of JRS West Africa says referencing Sadie.

In November 2020, Sadie received a tricycle from the JRS and UNHCR officials “as part of a programme that encourages children ... to follow their studies and enhance their social integration by providing them with resources like tricycles to assist with mobility,” officials of the 40-year-old Catholic agency have reported.

Thanks to the tricycle, Sadie who aspires to become a mechanic now “goes to class every day and it is easier for her to do things like spend time with her friends and visit her aunt,” officials of the Rome-based Catholic agency further note.

“I love school,” Sadie, who enjoys Arabic and Mathematics, has been quoted as saying in the January 7 report.

Grateful for the support from JRS and UNHCR officials, Sadie’s mum, Fatna recalls how life was for her daughter before the tricycle saying, “We struggled a lot because I did not have any means [to transport her]. When the child was ill, I had to carry her on my back to bring her to the hospital.”

Founded on 14 November 1980 by Jesuit Fr. Andrew Arrupe, the mission of JRS is “to accompany, serve, and advocate on behalf of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons, that they may heal, learn, and determine their own future.”

This story was adapted from the January 7 report by JRS West Africa.

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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
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