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Cuba: Improving the living conditions of people with disabilities and their families

Inclusion
Cuba

There is a high prevalence of disability in Cuba. One third of people with disabilities have an intellectual impairment. Handicap International’s project aims at improving the living conditions of people with disabilities and their families and promotes their inclusion in communities in Piñar del Rio province, in the west of Cuba.

A dance performance by members of Handicap International's community-based-rehabilitation project in Cuba. Project beneficiaries include nearly 400 people with an intellectual disability.

A dance performance by members of Handicap International's community-based-rehabilitation project in Cuba. Project beneficiaries include nearly 400 people with an intellectual disability. | © Marta Burgaya/Handicap International

“There are over 360,000 people with disabilities in Cuba, one third of whom have a form of intellectual impairment. Pregnant women aren’t fully aware of disability risks, and families aren’t given enough advice on how to look after a child with disabilities,” explains Philippe Martinez, Handicap International’s director in Cuba.

Handicap International’s community-based rehabilitation project in Piñar del Rio province is designed to prevent disabilities in children, improve care and treatment, and increase awareness of disability in local communities. Community-based rehabilitation is an approach that aims at improving the quality of life of people with disabilities and their families by meeting their basic needs and ensuring their participation and inclusion in society.

The organisation trains health professionals (paediatricians and obstetricians), organises awareness-raising campaigns about intellectual impairments, and produces learning tools to promote the educational and psychological development of children and young people. Handicap International also helps parents set up self-help groups.

"I really love this project"

“We want to improve the lives of people with disabilities and acceptance by their families and communities,” explains Marisol Roca, a project representative in Mantua. “We organise fun, sporting and social activities they can do together.”

“I really love this project,” says Julio Julio Sànchez Breto, who has a physical disability. “It helps people with disabilities feel more included in society and fights discrimination that says ‘because you’re disabled, you can’t live here with us’.”

“I wasn’t at ease with my disability,” adds Tomàs Rodrìguez Maqueira. “The project made me more visible. I’ve started a new life, and I can help people who are in the same situation as I am.”

Benefiting more than 1,400 people with disabilities, the project is run in partnership with 800 health professionals and community officers.

Handicap International’s six-strong team in Cuba also promotes the inclusive employment of people with disabilities in Granma province, and builds the capacities of various authorities and public institutions to manage the risk of natural disasters in the cities of Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo and Baracoa. We particularly target the most vulnerable individuals, especially women and children with disabilities.

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