Emmanuel is a student at Illuhum school in Torit, a region to the east of the capital Djouba, in the south of the country. Because of his disability, his mother used to carry him there on her back, before going to work as a coal seller. A heavy burden on her, it also made life difficult for Emmanuel, who was often late for school.
Since he was given a tricycle by HI, he can travel to school without help from other people. “I still can’t believe I can go so far, so fast!” says Emmanuel.
“To include people with disabilities in their communities and ensure they enjoy the same chance of success, it’s vital they have equal access to healthcare and education. Thanks to his tricycle, Emmanuel is more independent and he can now take part in a complete range of school activities, just like his friends,” explains Paul Crichley, director of HI in South Sudan.
Emmanuel’s school is one of several supported by HI, which helps to make them more accessible to children with disabilities. According Paul, three years after it was launched, the project has had a positive impact on people’s lives: “It’s easier to physically access the schools now. And we’ve trained teachers to include children with disabilities in the classroom.” These teachers will continue HI’s work once the project is over.
In Torit region alone, HI has handed out 40 mobility aids, such as wheelchairs and tricycles, to enable vulnerable people like Emmanuel to move around more easily and to give them a better chance in life.
Emmanuel is no longer the last to arrive at school – in fact, he’s always the first! And because he can move around by himself, he plays an active role in school life, and has even been voted class representative.
What does he want to be when he grows up? “I want to study and help people who can’t walk – especially children like myself - to play an equal role in their community.”