Wheelchairs give mobility and independence to Mogadishu’s disabled


(ERGO) – Ibrahim Nur Iman, 25, has been peddling himself to work through the streets of Mogadishu in a wheelchair for the last 18 days.

It has been such a life changing experience for him to have his own mobility that he has been counting each of the days. He no longer has to crawl on all fours due to his severe disability as he used to do, arriving late with dust and dirt all over his clothes and very tired limbs.

Ibrahim, who works at the airport with a firm called Sahal installing and repairing electrical equipment, is one of 100 recipients of manual wheelchairs donated by the Saudi government through the Somali health ministry.

“I crawled every day to the airport for a year before I got this wheelchair!” Jama told Radio Ergo. “I could not afford to get a tuk-tuk taxi on my monthly salary of $150.  In any case, I need to be lifted into the taxi and drivers are not always willing to help.”

Another young person also happy with a newfound mobility and independence is Jama Mohamed Ahmed, who lives in an IDP camp. Jama, 18, is a grade 8 student at Hamar-Weyne school. His old wheelchair broke in 2012 and could not be repaired.  Since then, for five years he has been crawling his way to school.

Jama told Radio Ergo he used to wait for such a long time trying to cross the road due to the traffic that he was always late.

“My teachers understood my situation but now I get to my classes on time, I am never late! When I was told that I was going to get one of the free wheelchairs I was very happy, because it is vital for my mobility,” he said.

Going out on rainy days is especially hard to people with disabilities. Jama once failed to attend his classes for 10 days due to the heavy rains.

Basmo Amir Shaketi, deputy head of social welfare in Banadir administration, said people with disabilities are marginalised and neglected in the streets despite their vulnerability to danger.  The recipient of the wheelchairs were selected by the administration according to their need.  Eighty of them were given to IDPs.

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