FOCUS ON – Rehabilitation & inclusive development: testimonies on SDG5 | July 5, 2019

In July 2019, HI & the Global Rehabilitation Alliance (GRA) launched the report “Rehabilitation for the realisation of human rights and inclusive development”. In this article, you will find the testimonies and case studies collected on the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 on Gender Equality. Download the report “Rehabilitation for the realisation of human rights […]

In July 2019, HI & the Global Rehabilitation Alliance (GRA) launched the report “Rehabilitation for the realisation of human rights and inclusive development”. In this article, you will find the testimonies and case studies collected on the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 on Gender Equality.

Download the report “Rehabilitation for the realisation of human rights and inclusive development” in English and in French.

The report situates disability and rehabilitation within global discourse and policy. Building on data, case-studies and testimonies, the report provides recommendations on the implementation of effective rehabilitation-focused policies and practices, contributing to progress towards SDGs and the realisation of human rights.

Download the full collection of case studies and testimonies here


Testimony – DRRA Bangladesh

Disabled Rehabilitation and Research Association (DRRA) first met Astomi Malo in 2002 when she was 12 years old and living in the Satkhira district Bangladesh. She had physical difficulties due to post-polio paralysis. The DRRA rehabilitation team enrolled her in a CBR project and started rehabilitation.

When Astomi was 20 she worked on a DRRA CBR project and started delivering CBR while also studying for a degree in the Arts. Astomi was appointed as a Community Mobilizer in 2008 and was fully involved with Self Help Group mobilization, conducting training sessions, and advocating at local and national levels. This experience not only contributed to the success of the project, but also built her leadership skills. In 2011 Astomi realized her dream of becoming a leader.

With the support of DRRA, she formed a Disabled People’s Organisation, Narikontha Unnayan Songstha (NUS), and now leads a team of 35. NUS works on health, education and empowerment for persons with disabilities through service delivery, school enrolment, and social safety net issues, as well as advocacy with local government.

Astomi’s achievements as a women leader and mentor to persons with disabilities were first recognised in 2013 when she was awarded the Joyeete Award (a Bengali word which means victory of women). She went on to win the award for the second time in 2018. Astomi was also recognized as ‘best woman entrepreneur 2018’ of Shyamnagar Upozila, Satkhira by the Department of Youth Development.


Testimony – HI Egypt

Fatma is a 3 years old Egyptian girl. She lives in a poor family with her parents and siblings, she is the 5th kid and the youngest girl. She was born with a disability following complications during her mother’s labour. Firstly, her parents were ashamed of her disability and kept her at home, even Fatma’s relatives could not see her.

A CBR team heard about it and first tried to get in touch with Fatma’s mother at their home. She denied having a daughter with disabilities. Later, they found her waiting besides the CBR unit and she told them that Fatma had a congenital disability. The CBR team started visiting Fatma at the family home, before convincing her mother to go to the unit. The mother joined a peer-support group alongside with other mothers and started allowing her daughter to join social activities.

Nowadays, Fatma goes to the CBR unit and a health unit. Fatma’s family and people in the community have changed their opinion on her disability. She now goes out of the house and meets new people.


Testimony – MoveAbility Nicaragua

Melania is a 66 years old woman living in Nicaragua. She was only one year old when she severely burned her feet walking on blazing embers that were used in the family kitchen. Due to their difficult economic situation, her parents could not pay for adequate care in time and both of Melania’s feet had to be amputated. When her accident happened in 1953, the prostheses were not yet manufactured in Nicaragua, which meant that Melania had to move on her knee since she was a baby.

Her living conditions have been precarious and Melania had to work in the markets selling spices to support herself. She therefore goes to work every day by moving on her knees.

Her 11 children also being in complicated financial situation means they were not able to help her. She emphasizes: “My children have their own families, I do not want to be a burden to anyone, I can still work and earn a living. I don’t want to beg to survive and I prefer to work. As long as I can, I will continue to go to the market every day.”

It is only at the age of 66, that she received her very first prosthesis. She was cared for by Rafael Bermudez, who had just graduated as Prosthetist/orthostist thanks to a MoveAbility grant. Melania was fully supported and accompanied to take her initial steps. For the first time she was standing up. Melania often continues to move on her knees. She explains: “I’ve been moving like this all my life, that’s all I know. I still need a little more time to adjust and above all I have to get used to a new way of seeing the world.”


Testimony – MoveAbility Ivory Coast

Séverine is a 42 years old women living in Ivory Coast. She has polio since the age of two years old. “I always said that I did not want to lie in bed, and that I would work,” she explains to visitors in the tailoring workshop in Abidjan, where she spends much of her days. Unable to use her crutches following an accident three years ago, Séverine sought help from Vivre Debout, an Ivorian NGO providing assistive devices and rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities.

“Vivre Debout gave me a wheelchair and trained me in tailoring. My godmother and kind nuns gave me two sewing machines. With these I started my business in 2015.” Vivre Debout is an organisation which provides crutches, wheelchairs and other assistive devices for persons with disabilities, works to strengthen their autonomy and advocates for their rights. The devices they produce for their patients are manufactured according to each person’s individual needs. “A wheelchair, for example, must be just as specifically adapted to suit the person using it, as a prosthetic leg needs to be for an amputee”.

Supported by the ICRC MoveAbility Foundation since 2012, Vivre Debout has greatly expanded its rehabilitation services in recent years. In addition to its center in Abidjan, it has opened a satellite center in Bouaké.


Testimony – MoveAbility Tajikistan

Sadafmo is a 41 years old woman with disabilities. She was born in Dashtijum, a remote mountainous village of Tajikistan. In 1995, when she turned 18, her parents decided to marry her to a villager. On her wedding day, she lost her right leg to a mine and her body was full of debris.

The same year, Sadafmo was fitted with a prosthesis in Azerbaijan, with ICRC’s support. When she came back to Tajikistan, she finally celebrated her marriage. She lived for 2 years with her husband and their son, until her mother-in-law kicked her and her son out, saying that her disability was a burden on the family.

After her accident, Sadafmo felt ashamed and alone because of other people’s regard on her disability. The burden of stigma was heavy for her and she did not feel able to get out. The help and support she received at the Rehabilitation Centre helped her to rise up again, believe in herself and even find a profession. She successfully completed a sewing and embroidering course at a Boarding School for persons with disabilities.

Today she dedicates her life to her son’s education, to her work, but also to promoting the rights of persons with disabilities. In 2007, she participated to an International Conference for Demining which took place in Columbia. She raised the issue of anti-personnel mines in Tajikistan and called for an immediate demining campaign.



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