Hope at Last: Malyun's Story in Kenya
Malyun, now 18, grew up in Somalia. At the age of five, she was playing with her friends in a field near her home when she swallowed an unknown metal fragment. She immediately fell to the ground. When her father came to her aid, he tried to hold her hand to make her stand, but her legs would not hold. The family sought medical treatment in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, but all treatments failed. They were then sent to Kenya for further specialist treatment. It was on arrival at the hospital that Malyun was diagnosed with lower limb paralysis.
Malyun, now 18, grew up in Somalia. | © Humanity & Inclusion
Malyun now resides in the IFO refugee camp in Dadaab with her parents and siblings. At first, life in the camp was not easy because she could not move around on her own. Her parents carried her on their arms to help her access various places in their compound. "I felt like a burden to my family," Malyun laments. As she grew older and her parents could no longer carry her, they bought a wheelbarrow and used it to push her to places she needed to go. As she could not use her lower limbs, it was also a challenge for her to use the toilet by herself. Her mother used to hold her while she used the latrine or bathed her.
Malyun was never able to go to the nearby school because she had no way to get there. Her parents considered it shameful to carry her to school on a wheelbarrow, as it would only provoke mockery from her classmates. "I was pained to see how depressed my child was to be ridiculed and mocked for something she could not control and did not want herself," Malyun’s father said emotionally.
Her encounter with HI
One day, one of the HI rehabilitation team members heard about Malyun and decided to visit him. After an assessment, she was given a tricycle which she uses to get from place to place with ease. "I felt a joy I had never felt in life before when the thought of moving without my parents' help crossed my mind," said Malyun with a broad smile on her face. HI also took the initiative to build an accessible toilet at her home with guide rails and support bars that allow her to use the toilet without any help from her mother.
To change certain attitudes in the community, HI has conducted awareness campaigns on disability and inclusion in all schools in Ifo camp. In addition, HI has taken the initiative to employ assistant teachers and outreach teachers who ensure that all children with disabilities have access to education and do not stay at home for fear of discrimination. Malyun is now a very successful Grade 7 student at Horyaal Primary School.
The Covid-19 pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to all sectors in the country and the education sector has not been spared. From mid-March 2020 to October 2020, schools remained closed as the government took drastic measures to stop the spread of the virus. During this period, students stayed at home to ensure their safety. They had to attend radio classes.
"Some of the radio classes are very boring, especially the Kiswahili classes, which is a Bantu language," says Malyun, "Network failures are also a problem because they disrupt the classes."
To overcome the additional difficulties caused by Covid-19, Humanity & Inclusion decided to implement new educational measures and provide digital tablets to the students so that they can continue their studies normally without too much trouble.
"Learning will be easier and more enjoyable with a tablet," said an enthusiastic Malyun.
Mastercard Foundation partners with HI to help refugees in Kenya
The Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program has two main goals. First, to deliver emergency support for health workers, first responders, and students. Second, to strengthen the diverse institutions that are the first line of defense against the social and economic aftermath of this disease. These include universities, financial service providers, businesses, technology start-ups, incubators, government agencies, youth organizations, and nongovernmental organizations.
For more on the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program, please visit their website.