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Lockdown measures may worsen the conditions of children with disabilities

Inclusion Rehabilitation
Pakistan

Because of COVID-19, Pakistan is under a lockdown. The activities organised by Humanity & Inclusion for vulnerable children are now on pause.

Samina at the playground activities with her friends

Samina at the playground activities with her friends | © HI

Seven-year-old Samina is not able to walk and to use her hands for certain tasks like washing, combing her hair, and holding objects. Recently, Samina was invited to join a children’s group, and was offered rehabilitation sessions to help improve her condition. The children activities she took part in and rehabilitation sessions she received were making a real difference to her. But due to COVID-19, Pakistan is on lockdown, and so are the activities with children and the rehabilitation sessions.

Samina used to be isolated due to her disabilities. However, Humanity & Inclusion (HI) invited her to be a part of a children’s group in her neighbourhood which helped her integrate into the community. Activities are on pause at the moment but HI finds ways to ease the impact of the lockdown on her and her family.

A few weeks ago…

Due to the spread of COVID-19, Samina must stay inside her home, to ensure she protects herself and others from the virus.Samina is back to the life she had  before, when she stayed in her bed in one corner of her home without any friends or toys to play with. Before the coronavirus, she was out every day, playing with other children and making friends for the first time in her life.

Samina participating in the activities organised by HI with her friends / © HI

Before she was provided with a wheelchair, her friends would carry her around the playground so she could participate in the same activities as them. Samina also received rehabilitation care at the community base centre where she participated in physical therapy exercises 3-4 times a day to help improve her mobility and have better use of her hands. 

Samina’s family has lived in displaced camps for nine years after fleeing armed violence. Her father is a daily labourer.

“We are very poor. We have never been able to arrange a medical treatment for Samina. But thanks to HI’s team, she was getting stronger.”

says her mother.

Activities on hold

Due to COVID-19, activities in Pakistan have all come to a halt.

“All the improvements we have observed on her physical and mental condition in recent months are at risk of being wasted,” explains HI’s Monitoring Officer Sumaira Bibi. “Samina felt very elated after each outside activity and we clearly observed a visible increase in her mental development. Kids need to interact with each other and play. By playing with toys, Samina was able to move better and use her hands and fingers. Such activities are essential for their well-being and development. Samina also needs to follow her rehabilitation exercises to ensure that her mobility will not be totally lost.”

HI tries to mitigate the impact of the lockdown

Although our community workers are not able to continue activities with children in the same way during the lockdown, our teams are finding ways to provide support.

“We have kept contact with her mother to ensure she can do the physical therapy exercises with Samina at home regularly. It is important to maintain her mobility. Sessions on health and hygiene are also being organised with Samina's family to prevent COVID-19 and ensure social distancing. Her family will also be provided with an hygiene kit and some food,”.

explains Sumaira

Financial difficulties during a global health crisis

Samina’s father hasn’t been able to work for the past three weeks due to the lockdown, and they now have very little to eat. Like many parents, Samina’s mother and father find it very difficult to see their children so frustrated and helpless during this global health crisis.

Samina’s parents hope that the ongoing situation improves quickly so that she can meet up with the children’s group again. It’s not only fun for Samina, but it’s also one of the best therapies for her development.

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