Following the April earthquake, Plan International conducted trainings on mobility and safety for 110 visually impaired young people in Kathmandu and four earthquake-impacted districts.
Over a four-day period, the youth learned how best to move around the South Asian city with their new assistive device, a white cane. With their cane in hand, and with the assistance of facilitators and schoolteachers, the young people learned how to navigate through narrow spaces, up and down stairs and how to change directions in the chaotic city.
Supporting and meeting the needs of children with disabilities continues to be a priority for Plan International in Nepal. “The reason we place so much focus on children with disabilities is because they are already vulnerable and the earthquake in April only made the situation worse,” explains Naima Chohan, Child Protection in Emergencies Specialist for Plan International in Nepal.
life after the earthquake
“We work in very remote, mountainous areas, meaning it is even harder for children with disabilities to reach our services. Our mobile team travels by foot into isolated, earthquake-affected areas to reach these children at their doorstep. We want to ensure they are going to school and receiving appropriate psychosocial support,” says Chohan.
The way to school is difficult and I used to struggle walking up and down. After the training, I can now confidently move around. - Sakuntala
In the wake of the April earthquake, Plan International and partners have educated parents, schoolteachers and communities about the importance of sending children with disabilities to school. Given that children with disabilities are 10 times less likely to attend school than children without disabilities, it is critical that teachers and parents understand the challenges that young people with disabilities face and offer support within a conducive and inclusive learning environment.
In recent months, Plan International has procured assistive devices (for children with physical and visual impairments), developed education materials catered for children with disabilities and developed referral systems linking children to government services.
“Children with disabilities are more at risk of child protection measures like abuse and violence, as they often rely on the support and care of others. While they need special care and arrangements, we also need to mainstream their support. It is crucial that they do not remain isolated, but have an equal chance to participate in our activities and can socialise with other children,” explains Chohan.
supporting children with disabilities
Through mobile child protection activities and child friendly spaces, Plan International has provided psychosocial support and care to an additional 136 children with disabilities living in earthquake-affected areas.
The mobility and safety training – one of the many activities provided by Plan International – was a first of all of the youth participants. “I received a white cane but had never heard about this mobility and safety training. Really, it is very helpful for me. I have easier access and can safely move around,” says Rabin (18).
“We try to ensure that the needs of children with disabilities are identified and addressed. As we start to rebuild schools, we consider that structures should be physically accessible. We’re building the capacity of our staff and local partners to ensure they include children with disabilities in all of our planned activities,” says Chohan.
Moving forward, Plan International will build ‘safe schools,’ enabling thousands of children to resume their education in a safe, resilient and more inclusive environment. These schools will be equipped with hardware and software elements to support children with disabilities.
Learn more in our latest report Include us! - A Study of Disability among Plan International's Sponsored Children.