“My cousin had asked me to follow him to the village so we could record the needs of the children living there,” said Ali*, a local disability project assistant who works with Operation Mercy. “At the first home we visited, we met a boy with cerebral palsy who really needs a standing frame. Can I invite him to come and see us?”
The project team listened to Ali’s request and were quiet for a moment. A few seconds later, the project manager beamed with pride. It was a turning point for Ali; after working with Operation Mercy in this role, she is now able to recognise the exact needs of children with disabilities. This was also a turning point for the team, as training others to recognise the needs of children with disabilities and to identify the ways in which they can help is one of its main aims and goals.
In a similar vein, the team had been doing disability assessments and training in another village. Rose*, the associate director of the hospital the team worked with, told them that the hospital only sees children with disabilities when they are sick and needed care. Before Operation Mercy arrived in this village, Rose had never thought of getting involved with children with disabilities. However, she began to realise and understand the need for these children to have access to regular therapy and that getting the parents involved and their mindsets changed made a big difference.
This is one of the primary goal of the project: to educate people about the needs of children with disabilities and how to help them. In some cases, this education takes place through formal training sessions and sharing of information, but sometimes, it happens just by someone being present or allowing people to see how children with disabilities should be treated. Sometimes, it is through the care shown to the children, or the time that is spent with them and their families.*names changed