In the summer of 2013, 23 year old Jenny Stutchbury departed to Burkina Faso for a three month program to complete International Citizen Service. Jenny, of Wandsworth, worked for a non-governmental organisation called Handicap Solidaire Burkina - a charity which helps disabled people based in the capital of the Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou.
Jenny was been supported on the project by the Jack Petchey Foundation after she successfully bid for an Individual Grant for Volunteering. “I was very fortunate to have had the support from the Jack Petchey Foundation, as well as some generous donations on my JustGiving page to assist the work of Handicap Solidaire Burkina.”
Handicap Solidaire work to improve disabled people’s rights to work, their education and medical care. They run a drop in advice centre, an education centre and organise a range of sporting and community events in and around Ouagadougou.
Jenny said, “Handicap Solidaire are doing an incredible job, but they are under-resourced and under-staffed, and the spaces at their centres are massively oversubscribed. The reality of having a disabled child in Burkina is that the entire family are put in an impossible situation, as many of the children are undiagnosed, and their parents have no real idea what is wrong with them.”
She found that many of the children are excluded from society due to their disabilities, which are often caused by polio or a particularly vicious strain of malaria.
During her time at the centre, Jenny delivered lessons and organised games with the children, although with some of the more severely handicapped, she would simply sit and play or read to them. “We were concerned to make sure the more handicapped children did not feel excluded – we voiced this to the HSB staff who told us that simply engaging with them was more interaction than they were used to, and it helped them a lot more than we might have realised.”
Jenny began a PGCE at Goldsmiths College in South London this September and hopes to study educational psychology in the future. A part of her current assessment is an assignment on Ethnic and Linguistic Diversity, for which she will draw on her time in Burkina Faso.
“My experiences in Burkina Faso will certainly help me in both my studies and future teaching positions. I also returned to my old school to do a presentation on my experiences, which I hope will help to encourage other young people to do something similar themselves.”
Handicap Solidaire work closely with another charity called Tigoung Nonma, which means ‘Strength through Unity’, and is aiming to increase the production rates of disabled artisans. You can find out more about both charities at www.handicapsolidaire.ch and www.tigoungnonma.org or learn about completing Internation Citizen Service yourself at www.ics-uk.org.uk
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