Across the world, more than one billion people are living with some form of disability, and that’s 15 per cent of the global population. People with disabilities have poorer health outcomes, lower education achievements, less economic participation, and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities.
Every day, the majority of them experience barriers in accessing services that many of us have long taken for granted. In Sierra Leone, out of a total population of 7,076,119 people in the country 93,129 are living with disabilities and that represents 1.3 per cent of the country’s total population.
The most challenging part of their lives is moving from one place to the other and they are not able to take care of themselves. Getting mobility aids are costly and difficult to access by persons with disability who need them most, they are frequently left to crawl on the ground and consequently suffer from illnesses, diseases, low self-esteem, isolation, exclusion, and deprivation.
But recently with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Global Environmental Fund (GEF) Small Grants Programme, an innovative project was designed by Mobility Sierra Leone to support the needs of persons living with disabilities through the provision of assistive devices (mobility carts, wheelchairs, crutches, etc.), and capacity building of physical disability rehabilitation services in Kailahun District. The project supported over 200 persons living with disabilities within the community.
Ruth Kamara, is a petty trader living in Buedu Chiefdom, Kailahun District, she is faced with the challenges of moving from one place to the other. Before the implementation of the project, Ruth didn’t have a wheelchair, she was depressed and was unable to run her errands easily.
“When I didn’t have a wheelchair I was depressed, I was unable to go to the market to get my goods and even partake in social activities within the community”
Sitting for long hours without moving was affecting my knees and I used to experience pain regularly. Sometimes I wanted to participate in meetings related to disabilities and those that are related to community development but I couldn’t. Kamara Said”
With the intervention of Mobility Sierra Leone, Ruth now has a wheelchair, and she can do things on her own. She can go to the market to buy her goods, stroll around the community whenever she is bored. Also, she is now able to partake in social activities and has been trained in weaving.
Fayia Borbor, is a radio mechanic and shoemaker, who also lives in Buedu Chiefdom, Kailahun District. He is a leprosy patient and that’s what led to the amputation of his leg.
After he had surgery in 2017, things became tough for him. He had no wheelchair then, so he used to stay indoors for a long period. The community used to stigmatize him because of his health conditions.
“When I board motorbikes people say that I have Leprosy and I will transfer it to them”, he stated.
A wheelchair has been provided for him and many others, it has helped them in different ways. Fayai is now able to go to his workplace easily, he can also go to church, and attend meetings.
About GEF SGP
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP), implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), offers grants to innovative, inclusive, and impactful projects that address global environmental and sustainable development issues.
Mobility Sierra Leone
This innovative project was designed to meet the above needs through the provision of assistive devices (mobility carts, wheelchairs, crutches, etc.) for persons with mobility disabilities in Kailahun district, capacity building of physical disability rehabilitation services in Kailahun district, environmental adaptations in public buildings in Kailahun districts and awareness-raising, sensitization and advocacy for policy change regarding physical disability rehabilitation. This project supports and complements the efforts of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) and the Sierra Leone Union on Disability Issues. The NCPD, in the Persons with Disability Act 2011, in article 6 under the subtitle ‘Functions of the Commission’ states that the commission is responsible to “(g) support and secure the rehabilitation of persons with disability within their communities and social environment; (h) coordinate services provided in Sierra Leone for the welfare and rehabilitation of persons with disability and implement programmes for vocational guidance and counseling.
About GEF Small Grant Stories
The GEF Small Grants Stories series is made possible by a grant to VR&C Marketing Company to increase the visibility of the GEF Small Grants Programme in Sierra Leone through the production of blogs and digital media content on the successes of the program.