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International Day Of Persons With Disabilities

People with disabilities around many parts of the world have to overcome different disadvantages and barriers preventing them from fully participating in economic, civic and community life. This can be anything from inaccessible buildings, inadequate transport systems, reduced access to information and communication technology as well as lower level of funding for services. These disadvantages result in disabled people having a smaller world open to them and create a feeling of marginalisation from many societies around the world.

Poverty and disability have an interrelated relationship, with both believed to significantly affect the other. Altogether, 400 million disabled people are thought to be living below the poverty line. Poverty may increase the risk of disability through malnutrition, poor access to safe water and sanitation as well as a distinct lack of education and health care services. Whereas disability may increase the risk of poverty through lack of employment and education opportunities, lower wages and the increased cost of living with a disability.

This is 11 year old Cosmos, he is now able to go to school thanks to the excellent work that SHIKUWATA is doing to help disabled children in his community.

COCO’s work providing education for disadvantaged children has looked at how we as acharity can progress towards these goals, with education playing a key role in overcoming cultural stigmas and helping to give disabled children a greater chance in life. Roughly one in three of the children around the world who do not have access to primary education have a disability and 90% of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school at all. Of the 14,408 people Coco’s work has directly affected, 256 are disabled.

In 2016, COCO invested in developing a Food for Fees programme for SHIKUWATA, an organisation educating disabled children. The community-based organisation is located in Tanzania where there is generally a stigma attached to disability - children with physical or mental disabilities are usually hidden at home and not able to go to school.  Margaret Mapunda felt sorry for this marginalised group and decided to set up an organisation to help them by working to change the attitudes of community members and enable disabled children to attend school, to learn, play and make friends with all the other children.

COCO's investment was used to establish a community farm to increase income to sustain the organisation, which has in turn brought in income of more than £1,000. As well as advocacy work to change the perceptions of local communities, SHIKUWATA financially assists families to be able to send their disabled children to school by helping to buy uniforms, shoes, transport fares and learning materials. 

This is 14 year old Bruno who is supported by SHIUWATA, who would like to become a teacher when he is older.

Margaret Mapunda commented “It is important that these children get the chance to get an education.  I saw that these children were marginalised and ignored by most people; I decided that I must be one of the few to help them and set up this organisation.  It is a difficult task, but very rewarding.  We are extremely grateful to COCO and Hoja Project for supporting us. Without you and your supporters these children would still be hidden at home.”

By Lorenzo Wareham

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