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Monica is back on her feet

South Sudan

One morning last August in a South Sudan camp, nine-year-old Monica woke up with a high temperature, unable to get up.

A Monica is now back on her feet after both her legs were paralysed. South Sudan.

A Monica is now back on her feet after both her legs were paralysed. South Sudan. | © Handicap International

The family were not too worried at first, but as Monica’s mum explains, there was a rapid deterioration in her daughter’s health: “She was too weak. We didn't make a fuss and gave her some medicine. Three days later, Monica could no longer walk. We tried to heal her with traditional therapeutic herbs, but it had no effect. We didn't know what to do.” Within a few days both of Monica’s legs were paralysed.

Monica and her family faced this frightening situation whilst living in the Yusuf Batil camp for people forced to leave their homes by the latest upsurge in fighting in South Sudan. Yusuf Batil is one of three camps for displaced people in Maban County. Since December 2013, 1.5 million people have been displaced inside South Sudan. Many of them are living in camps. Access to drinking water and food is scarce and health and care services including rehabilitation care is often unavailable.

For months Monica’s family did not know what was wrong with their daughter, then during a hospital visit in November 2014, doctors diagnosed Monica with Guillain-Barré syndrome. Guillain-Barré is a disease where the immune system attacks the nervous system. After the diagnosis doctors were able to prescribe a course of treatment.

A few weeks later, Handicap International's mobile rehabilitation teams met Monica while on a visit to Maban. Monica received daily physiotherapy sessions from the team while continuing her medical treatment. The results have been extremely positive. After three weeks of rehabilitation, Monica stood up again. She can now move around unaided, and her big smile is back.

Since 2014, Handicap International has been supporting displaced people in South Sudan. Our teams have delivered nearly 2,000 rehabilitation and psychological support sessions.

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