Michael, 14, fled the conflict in Central African Republic and now lives in a refugee camp in Cameroon with his parents.
“I was born in good health, full of energy,” says Michael. “At the age of 3, I complained about a pain in my leg. This worsened as the days passed and a year later I couldn’t walk.”
Children with disabilities are often excluded from education. However, Michael was determined to not be held back by his disability. He enrolled at a school in the refugee camp despite the challenge of getting there every day.
Disability not inability
“I spent 45 to 60 minutes crawling to school every day, located 400 metres from my home. At the end of the school year, my performance proved that my disability is not an inability. I was second in my class”, says Michael.
With support from Plan International and Irish Aid, Michael was provided with a wheelchair to help him get to and from school. He also received a disabled persons’ card that gives him free access to public schools and reduced healthcare and public transport costs.
“As I had to crawl for about an hour to get to school, I always arrived late. When it rained, I had to crawl in dirty water and mud. Since I got my wheelchair, I get to school on time. Some of my schoolmates who used to laugh at me now play with me and offer to push me around on my wheelchair”, says Michael.
Support for children with disabilities
Michael is one of 130 children living with disabilities in refugee camps in Eastern Cameroon who are receiving support from Plan International. Together with partners we are providing physiotherapy and orthopaedic equipment such as crutches, wheelchairs and specialist footwear to ensure children are not held back by their disabilities.
We are also working to ensure children with disabilities in the camps have access to inclusive education, clean water and recreational facilities that meet their needs.