Grandma in Mozambique fights for her granddaughter’s right to equal opportunities
Like many grandparents in Mozambique, Chica is the primary caregiver to her grandchildren. She makes some money growing and selling vegetables and receives social benefits for her three children and three grandchildren, but it is insufficient to cover all expenses.
One of Chica’s grandchildren is 5-year-old Leila*. She was born with a disability and is unable to walk. Chica applied to the Social Welfare Office for a wheelchair so Leila could get around more easily and play with other children, but she did not receive one.
Photo by Cornel van Heerden.
Stigma and lack of opportunities
Many people with physical or mental disabilities are treated with contempt and mockery, exposed to violence, and deprived of the opportunity to live an independent and dignified life.
Despite national policies and strategies for including persons with disabilities, there is still poor accessibility to buildings and a lack of information and trained staff. Children with disabilities are often excluded from attending school and participating in society.
Chica is determined that her granddaughter should have the same opportunities as other children. Leila is bright, sociable, and likes to play with other children in the neighbourhood.
The result of Leila's strong will to participate on an equal footing with the other children is visible. One leg is in a cast and both her arms and legs are scratched. She broke her leg after a bad fall just days before SOS Children's Villages provided her with a wheelchair.
The wheelchair enables Leila to move around safely and will allow her to get to and from school this autumn. Chica states:
“She is strong and smart, and there is no reason why she should not do well in school just because she has a physical disability. But I'm worried about what will happen if I die before she's old enough to fend for herself, [...] complete her education, get a job, and become an independent adult.”
SOS Children's Villages Mozambique is one of the few organizations in Beira that provide holistic support to struggling families.
*Name changed to protect privacy.