When Essohouna, 17, was younger, he was unable to stand up and had to be supported by 2 wooden branches, used in place of crutches. “It was very painful for me to walk around and I had to keep stopping,” he says. Plan International has been working with the teenager since he was 14 to ensure he receives simple physiotherapy. Essohouna is now able to walk short distances on his own and is able to walk to school with the support of a crutch.
Being able to walk means Essohouna can take part in extra-curricular activities, such as football with his friends - which are often taken for granted.
Christine, 4, suffers from cerebral palsy. When she was younger she was unable to stand, sit or move. Her mother saw her as a burden. With the support of Plan International, Christine started receiving rehabilitation sessions.
Christine can now sit up on her own and her mobility has improved. The young girl is at her happiest when she is surrounded by friends and joining in with activities.
When Malik was younger, he was unable to walk or talk due to what doctors thought was hydrocephalus or excess fluid on the brain. Plan International supported his parents to take him to the capital city of Lome so he could see a doctor. As a result, he underwent surgery and has made a full recovery.
Malik, 6, now goes to school and is among the best students in his class. His teacher, Mr Koula says, “When he was brought to school, there was a lot of discrimination against him because of the shape of his head. Since we were trained by a local NGO about how to work with children with disabilities, we’ve brought all the pupils together and told them about Malik and his disability. Now the pupils like him, just as we teachers like him too.”
When Yao was 2 he contracted meningitis. Although his condition improved within a week, Yao, now 9, found himself unable to stand up. His parents built a rickshaw to help him learn to walk again, but his leg dragged and he was unable to grasp objects.
Plan International ensured that he received physiotherapy and orthopedic equipment to help with his disability. Now, he is able to walk normally and grasp objects again. “We had lost hope, thinking he would never be able to walk again,” said Yao’s parents. “But now we are able to smile again as Yao is happy and able to go to school.”
Samson, 10, has difficulty hearing. With the support of Plan International, he has been receiving medical treatment and his hearing has improved considerably. He now feels confident enough to visit holiday camps where he plays with his friends.
Plan International has been working with parents and guardians, encouraging them to send their children to school. Parents have been very receptive and make sure their children are washed, dressed and ready for school. Where necessary, they take and pick them up from school too.
Hortence, 9, needs a leg support to help her to walk, but she hasn’t let that stop her from attending school or playing with her friends. With the support of Plan International, she has received physiotherapy and a leg brace to help with her mobility. Ramps have been fitted at her school, while teachers have been trained in inclusive education.