A wheelchair brings freedom to a boy displaced by war in Sudan

Daily News Egypt
4 Min Read

Twelve-year-old Noureldin Abdelwahid lives with his parents and 11 siblings in a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ed Damazine, the capital of Blue Nile State in southeast Sudan. Polio, contracted in his youth, has profoundly impacted his life.

“We didn’t know much about his condition, and we were struggling financially,” explained Noureldin’s father, Elnour. “Unfortunately, this resulted in Noureldin living with a physical disability.”

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs  (OCHA), Noureldin is unable to walk and has limited use of one arm. “When I was younger, my mother would help me with everything,” he said. “But now that I’m older, she can’t anymore.”

Elnour, a daily wage laborer, struggles to provide for his family’s basic needs, let alone afford a wheelchair. The situation worsened after the outbreak of war between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces in Khartoum in April 2023.

“I hardly left the house,” said Noureldin. “Crawling on the rough ground was too difficult, so I preferred to stay inside. One day, I fell and hurt my ear and face,” he added, pointing to a scar.

Hope arrived when Noureldin’s family received support through an intervention funded by the Sudan Humanitarian Fund (SHF). It began with a visit from a trained member of the local Community-Based Child Protection Network, established by Save the Children.

“The local leader heading the network visited our home and inquired about Noureldin’s situation,” Elnour explained.

Following the visit, the family received food, essential supplies, and most importantly for Noureldin, a wheelchair. This transformed his life and mobility.

“Everything changed for me and my family,” he said. “Now I can finally go outside and play with my friends.” Noureldin visits a nearby child-friendly space supported by Save the Children, where he interacts with his peers.

“I come here with my brothers, and we play with other children. It’s amazing!” he exclaimed.

While the children play, their parents have more time to work and attend to their needs. “My father can now buy dates, flour, and oil for us,” Noureldin added.

The SHF-funded project, implemented by Save the Children, aims to support 30,500 people, including children and adults with disabilities, by providing protection, clean water, sanitation, and hygiene services in Blue Nile State. This is part of a larger emergency response project offering health and nutrition assistance to vulnerable populations.

The project, jointly implemented by Save the Children, Child Development Fund, and Alsalam Organization for Rehabilitation and Development, allows Elnour to participate in community events again, crucial for the family’s social standing.

Noureldin’s mother, Halima, expressed her gratitude: “This additional support has significantly improved our lives. But most importantly, I’m overjoyed to see Noureldin enjoying time with his friends. He’s also learning to write at the child-friendly space, which hopefully will allow him to return to school soon.”

Elnour, however, worries about future displacement. “Millions are fleeing conflict in Khartoum, Darfur, and other states,” he said. “Our area has been relatively safe so far, but we pray for continued peace and for the entire country to heal.”

Sudan faces one of the world’s fastest-growing humanitarian crises, with nearly 10 months of war. An unprecedented 25 million people, including over 14 million children, require humanitarian assistance. The conflict has displaced over 7.6 million people, roughly 15% of the population, since April 15th, 2023. According to the International Organization for Migration, Sudan now has the world’s largest displacement crisis, with over 9 million internally displaced persons.

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