19 August 2015

Photo story: children with disabilities

© UNICEF Mongolia/2015/Andy Brown
Children with disabilities have the same rights as other children – to an education, health care, protection and survival. But they need more support to achieve these rights. UNICEF works with the Mongolian government and other partners to support disabled children and their families.

© UNICEF Mongolia/2015/Andy Brown
Batzaya, 12 (centre) with her mother and sister Narangerel, 6. The family lives in Khan-Uul district of the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar. Batzaya is a smart girl and understands everything said to her, but her disability prevents her from speaking clearly. She uses hand gestures, like a thumbs up for yes, to help her communicate.

© UNICEF Mongolia/2013/Andy Brown
A family in Nalaikh. UNICEF also works with the Government and NGOs to tackle stigma and discrimination. There is no shame in having a child with disabilities. In Mongolia, parents used to hide their disabled children at home, but in recent years attitudes have started to change and people are more accepting of difference.

© UNICEF Mongolia/2015/Andy Brown
Narangerel and Batzaya (right) at the Child and Family Development Centre in Khan-Uul. Batzaya currently attends a special school but the local government is working to get children like her into mainstream schools. “I like school,” she says. “I have lots of friends. I like playing with my sister. We play teacher and class.”

© UNICEF Mongolia/2015/Andy Brown
Narangerel and Batzaya (right) play together at the centre. Narangerel enjoys playing with her sister and helps her communicate with others by translating her hand gestures. “Batzaya dances very well,” she says. “She lets me ride her like a horse. We look through books together.”

© UNICEF/NYHQ2012-1786/Sokol
A student with disabilities in Khuvsgul. Most children with disabilities can be taught in mainstream schools. This improves their learning outcomes and social skills. It is also more cost effective, and benefits the other children who learn about diversity and inclusion. UNICEF is advocating for this kind of ‘inclusive education’ throughout Mongolia.

© UNICEF Mongolia/2014/Zetty Brake
In Nalaikh district, seven-year-old Davhkar joined his local mainstream school last year. “I enjoy going to school. I like to learn things and my favorite subject is maths,” he says. “My teacher’s name is Byambasuren. I like her because she teaches us a lot and is very kind.”

© UNICEF Mongolia/2015/Andy Brown
Tsendmaa, 16, also lives in Khan-Uul district. She has completed school up to Grade 9. Like Batzaya, she has physical disabilities but is very smart. She is now learning to make arts and crafts products at the local mainstream school, and has already sold several pieces.

© UNICEF Mongolia/2015/Andy Brown
Tsendmaa is clearly proud of her work and has several photos like this on her smartphone. “I like arts and crafts,” she says. “I also like running. I plan to run in the marathon this September. I miss being at school with my friends but I chat to them all the time on Facebook. If I can get a place, I would like to go to college.”

© UNICEF Mongolia/2014/Andy Brown
Ulziit, also in Khan-Uul district, is the horse racing centre of Mongolia. Many children work as child jockeys, sometimes under age, during winter, and without safety equipment. This can be very dangerous and there are many children disabled from horse racing injuries. UNICEF is advocating for a higher age limit for child jockeys and tighter safety rules.

© UNICEF Mongolia/2014/Zetty Brake
Budgarav, 15, was thrown from a horse during training four years ago and trampled, losing his front teeth and breaking both his legs. “It was very painful when I fell,” he says. “Now I stay at home and watch TV. Sometimes I play outside the ger. I would like to go back to school next year if my health improves.”

© UNICEF Mongolia/2013/Andy Brown
With the right support, children with disabilities can achieve as much as those without. “We want children with disabilities to be part of society,” says Mr Ganbaatar from the Child and Family Development Centre in Khan-Uul. “We aim to have one disabled child in every classroom. We already have children who have gone on to work in the local hospital and tax office. They are having good careers.”

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