The Reality of Being Disabled in Africa – and How You Can Help

Having a disability is hard anywhere in the world. But it is especially hard in Africa.

Human Rights Watch examines what happens to people with disabilities when conflict intensifies in the Central African Republic.

“Fewer than 5% of adults living with disabilities across Africa are able to read or write. People living with disabilities deserve, need and want the chance to fully participate in and contribute to their community, and education is an important step in helping them do so” -Africa Educational Trust

“70 million people worldwide need a wheelchair. 80% of disabled people in developing countries live in poverty. 90% of disabled children in the developing world do not go to school” -Uhambo

People living with disabilities in Africa face a great number of challenges and barriers that profoundly impact their day-to-day lives:

  • Community education, awareness and inclusion of people with disabilities is limited.
  • Families can be embarrassed or overwhelmed by disability and keep children or relatives with disabilities at home.
  • Many people living with disabilities in Africa are faced with neglect and abuse in their household.
  • Widespread poverty means the needs of ‘healthy’ children are prioritized.
  • Conflict increases the number of people with disabilities, while decreasing the available support.
  • Lack of care, community programs, services, medical devices and medical support to treat or manage disabilities.

These challenges make accessing education, employment and medical care extremely difficult. Negative attitudes combined with poverty and a lack of support creates a situation where:

  • Families do not send children with disabilities to school.
  • Children and adults living with disabilities are thought incapable of learning and ignored or discriminated against in classrooms or in a work environment
  • Teachers and employers do not know how to incorporate children and adults living with disabilities into their classes or work environment.
  • Schools lack the resources and infrastructure to accommodate the learning needs of children living with disabilities.
  • Lack of transportation to schools or work for those with physical disabilities.

How you can help:

We have had the pleasure of meeting with the amazing people who run Uhambo and Crutches4Africa, two Colorado based non-profits that work to  empower and transform the lives of people in Africa with disabilities. We are inspired by their work, and want to spread the word. If you have crutches, wheelchairs, or other mobility devices, please contact  Crutches4Africa.

If you would like to donate to Uhambo, a non-profit that provides social workers, therapists and program facilitators to children with disabilities in South Africa, please contact Uhambo.