For children, losing their parents is a huge trauma to deal with at a young age. However, in addition to this heavy loss, children in many countries riddled by fighting also must contend with horrific injuries caused by weapons such as land mines. Orphaned children who are disabled, either at birth or due to injuries, need help to survive. Without personal caretakers and advocates, they become dependent upon the compassion of strangers.
Wounded by War
In war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Colombia, Angola, Vietnam, and Cambodia, hundreds of thousands of young people have been mutilated by anti-personnel mines. Children are naturally curious and will pick up and examine strange, unknown objects. Land mines are so prevalent in some places that children actually play with them. Their small bodies render them particularly vulnerable to mutilations from these devastating weapons—injuries that can leave them permanently disabled.
According to statistics gathered by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), more than 80 percent of the 15,000 to 20,000 victims of land mines every year are civilians, and at least one in five are children. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) calls for all countries “that care about children” to ratify the Mine Ban Treaty and stop producing these types of weapons. Anti-personnel mines are not cleaned up after a conflict ends, so they pose dangers to civilians for decades after actual fighting is over.
For young people injured by such weapons, the difficulties can last a lifetime. For example, children’s bones grow quickly, and if they lose a limb to a land mine, they may have to endure multiple amputations and prosthetic fittings, if a prosthetic is even to be had. Furthermore, medical care may not be readily available, if at all. Devastating injuries can leave mental scars as well as physical ones, and those with such wounds may be consigned to lives on the fringes of society—homeless, forgotten, and alone.
Born With Difficulties
Babies may be born with impairments that can make life difficult enough, but when they lose their parental caregivers, these children face a grave situation unless someone else is willing to help. Children can face many types of disabilities from birth or at a young age.
- HIV and AIDS
- Cerebral palsy
- Down syndrome
- Hearing and visual impairments
- Mental impairments
- Muscular dystrophy
Disabled children who become orphans are at the mercy of others, and governments in some countries do not see these children as being worth an investment. Some administrations do not consider such young people to have any potential. Such disabled orphans may receive life-sustaining care in an austere facility, but they receive no social support, personal attention, or education to help them develop to their fullest capabilities.
Hope and Help
The good news is that certain individuals in the United States and around the world recognize the plight of so many children around the world today and are stepping in to help them. Whether through injuries from weapons of war or congenital health problems, these individuals are fighting for the helpless to ensure they receive the support they need. Social experts, genuine health care professionals, and caring philanthropists all are acting to not only keep these children alive but to help them thrive.
One way that individuals are helping orphans with disabilities is through charitable foundations. Such organizations can efficiently provide funds and assistance to various concerns. In this case, such associations can help orphanages and institutes that care for parentless children struggling with impairments.
As this problem has intensified and grown worldwide, many individuals have contributed to the cause in one way or another. One such person is Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva. As the daughter of the former Uzbekistan president Islam Karimov, she has seen first-hand what violence and war can do to all people, but especially children.
She is the Uzbek permanent representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and in 2004, she established the National Centre for the Social Adaptation of Children, a charitable organization that provides medical assistance as well as education for children with disabilities. Two years earlier, she founded the You are not Alone Foundation to help orphans.
A Worldwide Condition
Orphans who face life with one or more disabilities reside in every nation, from the United States to Uzbekistan, from Cambodia to Colombia. Impairments caused by vicious weapons of war, such as anti-personnel mines, are more prevalent in countries that have seen much violence, but children with congenital difficulties are born and live in all countries. If these infants and young people lose their parents, they become dependent upon others for their very survival, and are all too often taken advantage of by those they look to in their time of need. They need life-sustaining care, certainly, but to have a meaningful life, they also need education and social support.
Caring people around the world realize this great need. From working with organizations to individually establishing charitable foundations focused on helping orphans and disabled children, these people are working to let parentless children with difficulties know there is a place for them in this world. In the end, this is something everyone needs to realize.