Stella teaches Aruwa how to wash her hands | HI
In Kenya, in the Kakuma refugee camp, HI is sensitizing children with disabilities to barrier gestures against COVID-19.
Aruwa is six years old. She moves around on crutches due to a malformation of her lower legs. Today, her physiotherapist is teaching her how to protect herself from COVID-19. The pandemic poses a serious threat in camps like Kakuma.
Aruwa is six years old. She lives with her mother, her maternal uncle and her siblings in the Kakuma refugee camp. Her mother does not work, and the family is wholly dependent on humanitarian organisations to survive.
On top of their daily struggles, the family is also worried about Aruwa's health. The little girl has developed genu valgum, a deformity of the lower limbs. Her legs were so bowed she was unable to move and run around like other children. If the condition had not been treated at a young age, it would have been impossible to correct her knee axis.
But since the HI team arranged for her to have surgery to correct her deformity, Aruwa’s life has changed for the better. Aruwa can now move around on crutches. She sees Stella, HI's physiotherapist, on a regular basis for rehabilitation sessions, and is becoming more and more self-reliant.
Today, Aruwa was invited to HI's rehabilitation centre for a different reason: a COVID-19 prevention session. Stella, HI's physiotherapist, teaches her how to wash her hands, wear a mask and apply social distancing rules. The Kakuma refugee camp has not slipped under the pandemic’s radar.
Quite the opposite. The overcrowding, lack of hygiene, equipment, and resources to fight the spread of the disease are aggravating risk factors.
"I first heard about COVID-19 on the radio and when HI's physiotherapist came to our home to treat Aruwa. It's a serious disease that spreads very quickly. I haven't met anyone infected by it in the camp yet, but I know it kills a lot of people and I don't want anyone in my family or community to get it,"
says Crouch Abdalla, who accompanies his niece to the centre.
The pandemic makes life in the refugee camp even more difficult and precarious
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, life in the Kakuma refugee camp has been increasingly tough.
I arrived from Sudan in August 2014 and have been living here ever since. We are always short of water and sometimes we have to fetch it from the neighbouring camp, which is far from here. We drink even more now to protect ourselves, says Aruwa's uncle.
Many agencies have closed because of COVID-19, and it is difficult to find work and supplement our supplies, eat a balanced diet and find clothes for the family... It is incredibly stressful. I hope that after the end of the pandemic, when they lift the restrictions on our movements, we can go to work again, and the children can go back to school. I’m glad HI has been able to continue its work here and that Aruwa still benefits from your rehabilitation services. I really value the fact that she can do her exercises once a week, just like before! I also appreciate the information and training we receive from the HI team on COVID 19. It’s extremely useful!
"When the pandemic is over, I want to go back to school and learn, because when I grow up, I want to massage and rehabilitate other people. I also want to be able to play with my friends again like I used to,"
she says shyly but with determination.