People living with disabilities face unique challenges which have been heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic, including equal access to health care, support and information, as well as coping with social isolation, loss of employment and income support and the effect of the situation on their mental health.
To safeguard the rights of people with disabilities during this period, Plan International is working with the disability relief organisation OSH-Guinea to prevent the spread of the virus and protect the most vulnerable communities in Conakry. The association, made up of girls with disabilities between the ages of 19 and 35, is ensuring that people with disabilities have the hygiene materials they need to shield themselves against the disease.
Oumou Hawa, the founding member of the association, explains more about the initiative.
“People with disabilities are very exposed to this disease and as the main objective of our association is to help these people, this is why we have set up this project with Plan International.
It is clear that we could not be passive until this pandemic was defeated. For us, this is a struggle for the right to life as this disease will hit the most vulnerable people hardest. To this end, we are teaching people with disabilities and their families to follow the simple but important barrier measures while preventing the emergence of any form of stigmatisation towards them."
The project team recently visited the Cité Solidarité, a government-run compound for 300 of Conakry’s most vulnerable families, many of whom have disabilities and have experienced stigmatisation. The young women showed the residents how to wash their hands thoroughly and then distributed handwashing kits.
This gesture was warmly welcomed by the centre’s administrative authorities. "Today, compared to others who usually support us, is really an exception. That people living with disabilities have come to support other people with disabilities, really comforts me I am filled with joy and it is with real pleasure that we welcome this young dynamic team," expressed Ms. Rose, Deputy Executive Director of Cité Solidarité.
This distribution forms part of the implementation of a two-year project to support the socio-economic integration of young people living with disabilities financed by Plan International Guinea. The project encourages an inclusive approach to people living with disabilities, including government decision-making and actions.
Since the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Guinea last March, Plan International has been working to prevent the spread of the disease. Two months on, the chain of contamination has widened and today, more than 4,000 cases have been reported and the rate of infection is showing no signs of slowing down.