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Fatoumata wants to continue school at all costs

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Insertion | Burkina Faso | PUBLISHED ON January 23rd 2024
Fatoumata and her grandfather in front of their shelter in Windou, Burkina Faso.

Fatoumata and her grandfather in front of their shelter in Windou, Burkina Faso. | © D. Yamba / HI

Fatoumata has a disability and she lives in a refugee camp. She wants to continue school despite many obstacles.

On the occasion of the International Day of Education, on January 24th, HI reports on difficulties encountered by children with disabilities in accessing education in areas torn apart by crisis.

Fatoumata is a 15-year-old girl with a paralyzed left foot. Originally from the village of Goudebo in the North of Burkina Faso, she and her family fled their village following attacks by armed groups. They are now living in camps for displaced people in Dori. It has a major impact on the young girl's education.

All the difficulties and dangers

In Goudebo, Fatoumata was enrolled in the village school following a massive campaign to register girls to school. She now goes at the Windou elementary school. But the young girl faces many dangers.

As a young female, she is exposed to sexual abuse and harassment – that is unfortunately common in massive population displacement situation. Fatoumata feels scared when she is moving between the site and the school. She fears meeting strangers or having an accident with her bicycle (The bicycle was donated by HI for her displacement).

As her family is very poor, she is also exposed to early or forced marriage, a recurrent practice in the locality.

She has difficulty getting around as in the displaced families’ site, some of the ramps providing access to the dormitories have deteriorated.

And as she left her shoes adapted to her disability when she fled her village in a rush, to walk is much more difficult for her now.

Humanitarian needs skyrocketed in Burkina Faso in recent years with 25% of the people in need of aid. Many people are displaced from their homes within the country by sporadic violence. The number of people who are severely food-insecure sharply increased. At last, one million children driven out of school.1

The family’s hope

Fatoumata received food assistance and health support from HI. She also received school supplies - such as notebooks, pencils, a math kit, a solar lamp - a post-radio and a bicycle adapted to her disability. This aid has greatly improved her ability to get around and go to school, enabling her to pursue her education.

Fatoumata's family encourages her to continue her studies. The teenager is a very serious student, passing to CE2 (3d grade) class with an excellent average grade. Out of 17 pupils, Fatoumata ranked 7th. She is among the best pupils!

Fatoumata dreams of becoming a teacher and aspires to be called "Miss" by her pupils.

HI published the report entitled "Always Included: Uninterrupted education for children with disabilities before, during and after a crisis". This article comes from this report. The report describes how the education of children is interrupted by crises based on case studies in Burkina Faso, Palestine, and Madagascar. Globally, 72 million children are out of school due to emergencies and protracted crises, with 17% of them being children with disabilities. In West and Central Africa, more than 13,250 schools have closed, affecting 6,150 schools in Burkina Faso. In Madagascar, floods and cyclones have devastating effects on education continuity, destroying learning materials and infrastructure.

1. https://www.nrc.no/perspectives/2023/nine-things-you-should-know-about-the-humanitarian-crisis-in-burkina-faso/

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