Ethiopia: NGO celebrates 50 years fighting disability


BOSTON — Cheshire Services Ethiopia, the country's oldest international NGO, is celebrating its 50th anniversary today.

Leonard Cheshire Disability International is a UK-based global organization that was founded in 1948 by British war hero Lord Geoffrey Leonard Cheshire, with the intention of rehabilitating children with disabilities. 

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The non-profit works with Cheshire partner organizations in 54 countries and supports 250 independently managed disability organizations in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe.

Cheshire Services Ethiopia was founded in 1962 by invitation from Emperor Haile Selassie's grandchildren.

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Ten percent of the population — 9 million Ethiopians— have disabilities, according to RFI

Cheshire Services has various rehabilitation centers and outreach programs nationwide.

These services help thousands of Ethiopians, mainly young children, who have contracted diseases like polio or noma, a gangrenous disease that disfigures the face.

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A physical disability is often perceived as a curse from God because underlying causes of disease are misunderstood, according to ETHIOPIAID, which supports Cheshire's work in Dire Dawa and Harar, in the east of Ethiopia. 

For people with physical disabilities, access to education is rarely an option and rejection by family is not a surprising reality. 

Watch below to see how Cheshire is trying to lift the stigma of disability in Ethiopia:

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