Our new partnership in Liberia is with Williette Safehouse, an organisation introduced to us by the British ambassador – and friend to ELoH – David Belgrove. This partnership is very much in its infancy; but with Rita Stryker, who runs Williette, we are already helping ten child amputees across Liberia. At the moment we are ‘only’ educating and providing counselling – and hope very soon to providing medical care, and prosthetic support too.
- Access to mobility: we provide access to prosthetics or other mobility devices (crutches, wheelchairs), surgeries and aftercare to ensure comfortable use. We are committed to providing medical support to each individual child until it stops growing.
- Access to education: we support the integration of child amputees into schools, by paying for school fees and associated costs (books, uniforms) for one year, before enrolling families in the Family Business Scheme. We ensure admission in suitable institutions, from nursery school to university level. Additionally, some students are enrolled in skills training courses, ranging from IT studies to vocational training as electricians and tailors.
- Access to counselling: the social work component recognises that each of the beneficiaries is likely to face individual barriers in their homes, in their education, and in combatting their disabilities with some having struggled considerably due to stigma or trauma. We provide individual, family and group counselling.
- Building sustainable futures – the Family Business Scheme: to ensure that sustainable educational support for the child can be secured in the future, we address the underlying issue of gross poverty that characterises most child amputees’ homes. The programme consists of business mentoring and training to develop an individually tailored business plan. The families then access micro-grants and savings schemes, which sees the family use the income to grow their business and save the profits.
- Fighting against stigma: Cultural stigmas are part of the reason why child amputees are at a greater risk than the average child in Liberia of not receiving an education. We therefore engage with communities and the broader public through radio programmes and stakeholder meetings to educate the public about the rights of the disabled and discourage discrimination.
Who? In April 2014, the project began with an initial 41 child amputee beneficiaries. This project has now come to an end and we are seeking a new partner in Liberia.
Where? In Liberia we worked across two main locations, Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, and Buchanan, as well as a few remote locations where individual beneficiaries live.
What? Responding to the medical, educational and psychosocial needs of child amputees
Why is our work important?
Liberia is among the 15 least developed countries in the world according to the Human Development Index and continues to struggle with its post-war recovery. There exists no accurate data on the number of child amputees. The fact that there is no reliable information available is a clear sign of how sadly neglected child amputees’ problems are: there is only limited statutory support available for those suffering from amputation.
A 1997 survey sponsored by UNICEF found that more than 16% of the Liberian population lives with a disability, the majority of those being physically disabled. Today, it is estimated that these numbers have grown due to the country’s civil war.
Despite this, there is no organisation in Liberia working particularly with child amputees. However, an assessment carried out by ELoH and Street Child in June 2012 identified that there was substantial need to address this issue, as child amputees are currently among the most marginalised in a society struggling with endemic poverty. They often end up in orphanages or on the streets, where they are at a great risk of violence and exploitation.
To read more visit our country profiles about Liberia, India and Sierra Leone.
Special thanks goes to the Making a Difference Committee at Accenture and all those who sponsored Victoria and Sarah running the London Marathon both of which provided substantial funding to get this project off the ground.