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Sightsavers from the field

May updates: highlights from around the world

May 2019
A group of students link arms outside their school in Mali.

India

Sightsavers helps to make elections more inclusive

Sightsavers India’s campaign to create awareness about accessible elections ensured that more people with disabilities were able to take in part in the country’s general elections in April and May.

The campaign, entitled ‘Towards an inclusive election: leaving no one behind’, encouraged disabled people’s organisations to reach out to people with disabilities to help them to apply for a voting card and cast their vote.

Several high-profile events were held to spread the message, including creating a long human chain on public roads. Voters were given colourful badges to wear, displaying the campaign messages, and people with disabilities were given placards to display at local rallies.

Sightsavers India CEO RN Mohanty said: “Voting during elections is undoubtedly one of the most significant rights to democracy. Inclusion in the election process for people with disabilities is a step in the right direction to ensure that we leave no voter behind.” More from India

Two women hold up their index fingers after voting in the 2019 Indian general election.
The India campaign encouraged people with disabilities to vote.

Mali

Inclusive education project enables children to go to school

More than 250 children with visual impairments have been able to go to school thanks to a Sightsavers inclusive education project.

The two-year project, which will finish at the end of June, helped to train teachers and develop learning materials and assessment criteria to improve the literacy of 252 children with visual impairments. It also made sure reading assessments were adapted so they are suitable for the children. Working in four regions (Bamako, Ségou, Koulikoro and indirectly in Gao), it tested inclusive approaches in four mainstream schools, an integrated school and two schools for children with disabilities. The goal is now to roll out the approach across the rest of the country.

The project also focused on gender: it looked at why fewer girls in Mali enrol in school, and helped them to overcome these barriers to ensure they can receive an education. It was funded by USAID. More from Mali

A teacher in Mali points to a sign showing the braille alphabet.
The project in Mali provided learning materials to help children with visual impairments improve their literacy.

Nigeria

22 million treatments given out to protect against NTDs

A three-year project to tackle neglected tropical diseases in Sokoto state has provided millions of treatments to protect people from disease.

The project, which finished recently, helped to distribute medication to people at risk of five NTDs: trachoma, river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis and intestinal worms. In total, more than 22.7 million treatments for the five diseases were distributed across 23 local government areas.

One of the people who received medication was 12-year-old Dayyaba from the Shagari area, who was given tablets at school to protect her against schistosomiasis. She said: “I have been taking this drug for over four years now. Before, some children in our school and the community had signs of the disease, but after taking the drug these went away.

“Our headteacher told us that people get the disease from playing in stagnant water, so we were taught to wash our faces regularly, to avoid defecating in the open and to wear shoes wherever we go. I also help my mother in cleaning the house to ensure our environment is clean.”

The project was funded by the UK Department for International Development and Jersey Overseas Aid Commission. More from Nigeria

Dayyaba in Nigeria.
12-year-old Dayyaba was given treatment at school to protect her against schistosomiasis.

Bangladesh

New council will represent people with visual impairments

Sightsavers is to be part of a new national committee for people with visual impairments, set up by the Bangladeshi government.

The Bangladesh National Council for the Blind will run for three years. Sightsavers will be joined by ORBIS, HKI and Fred Hollows on the committee, which will be chaired by the Bangladesh minister for health. It will also include state ministers, secretaries, senior eye health professionals and representatives of NGO hospitals.

The first meeting is scheduled to take place in June. More from Bangladesh

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