1. Home
  2. Africa
  3. West Africa
  4. Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's polio disabled battle adversity

The young male polio survivors set off early in the morning to cover the streets of Freetown, hoping to gather any small change. They visit the mosques and churches and wait outside upscale restaurants and banks
Polio survivors in the streets of Freetown (Aug 2013) (Felicity Thompson/IRIN)

Sierra Leone's civil war famously left tens of thousands maimed, including many whose limbs were amputated. But while war victims received some help, those with other disabilities struggle to survive.

Disabled Sierra Leoneans face difficulty obtaining adequate healthcare, education and jobs, which are already hard to come by in the country.

While there are no data available, polio survivors are believed to account for a significant proportion of Sierra Leone's disabled. Many came to Freetown during or after the war, in search of safety, shelter and employment. Few now have jobs, and most resort to begging. Many have trouble finding a place to sleep.

 View slideshow

At a government-owned building in downtown Freetown, more than 200 polio survivors live with their families in small spaces divided by cardboard walls. The building is overcrowded, with just a few toilets and a small washing area, and with families growing, it will soon become untenable.

The community is run by the Handicapped Youth Development Organisation (HYDO), a group whose members are disabled.

HYDO plans to develop a plot of land it bought in Waterloo on the outskirts of Freetown for disabled people to work, farm and live. But with few means of income, the community faces an uphill battle.

ft/ob/rz


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

Help make quality journalism about crises possible

The New Humanitarian is an independent, non-profit newsroom founded in 1995. We deliver quality, reliable journalism about crises and big issues impacting the world today. Our reporting on humanitarian aid has uncovered sex scandals, scams, data breaches, corruption, and much more.

 

Our readers trust us to hold power in the multi-billion-dollar aid sector accountable and to amplify the voices of those impacted by crises. We’re on the ground, reporting from the front lines, to bring you the inside story. 

 

We keep our journalism free – no paywalls – thanks to the support of donors and readers like you who believe we need more independent journalism in the world. Your contribution means we can continue delivering award-winning journalism about crises. Become a member of The New Humanitarian today

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.

Join