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Senegal Activists: More Help Needed for Disabled


The World Health Organization estimates 80 percent of disabled people worldwide live in developing countries, where access to health care or employment can be a challenge. In Senegal, one group aims to help the disabled get out of begging on the streets and into jobs. But as Jordan Davis reports from Dakar, the need for jobs far outstrips the supply.

Khoraya Gueye makes her way down Dakar's streets on crutches, or what she refers to as her extra legs.

While the city's roads are often lined with disabled people trying to support themselves by begging, Gueye has just learned embroidery.

A mother raising a teenage son, she says she deeply enjoys her new job.

Since 2001, a network of associations has been teaching the disabled skills for occupations ranging from computer-programming to hair-styling.

In Senegal, private groups have limited means to help all of the country's disabled. Many are calling for the national government to do more.

There are no official statistics on the number of disabled in Senegal, but the U.N. estimates one in 10 people worldwide is disabled.

Oumar Diop, who advises the city of Dakar on the disabled, says out of the national budget of $3 billion, Senegal spends $300,000 a year for people with disabilities.

Others say investing in health care would help prevent disabilities in the first place. Ousmane Tindala Fall, is head of the national Association of the Physically Disabled.

He says, too often, people who suffer from illnesses, like diabetes or meningitis, do not get the medical care they need. Left untreated, diseases like these can lead to complications and life-long disabilities.

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