NgaReh: the fears of a father
Raising and caring for a child with disabilities is difficult for most families, whatever their circumstances. Place that child and her family in a refugee camp and the daily challenges faced by them are magnified. With your support the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is working to try and improve facilities and the future for disabled people and those who care for them in camps across the world…
12-year-old Oo Meh is sitting with her favourite niece who is just 14months old but already appears aware of her Aunt’s disabilities, tenderly sharing her fresh cucumber snack with Oo Meh. Oo Meh’s father Nga Reh watches the girls carefully: “We don’t really know what is wrong with Oo Meh. She was born like this. She has never walked, she can’t see properly and is unable to speak but she can communicate in her own way. We have to feed her carefully as she is unable to swallow properly. I worry about her all the time.”
When Nga Reh fled Myanmar with his wife and four children, they never thought they would still be living in exile so many years later. Oo Meh was born here in the Ban Mai Nai Soi camp. Nga Reh however worries about the future of his family and his community here in Thailand. "We have no choice but to stay here," he says. "We can't go home yet because it is not safe and what will be there for us? Here at least we can get some help for Oo Meh – we just want a good future for her.”
Staff at one of the medical clinics in the camp in Northern Thailand where Oo Meh lives suspect she has a neurological condition but a diagnosis is of little use here. Instead UNHCR through our local partners helps to ensure access to basic medical services and protection support, so that Oo Meh will be kept safe in the future. "My wife and I really worry about Oo Meh, especially what will happen to her after we pass away. She is our youngest child and we love her. But will my older children look after her properly? They have their own families. We worry about her future every day.” But Nga Reh knows that at least Oo Meh will at least get the medical care she needs.
The camp has a basic but well run medical clinic and Nga Reh says all of the care she has received to date has been very good. Up to an estimated 3.5million refugees and internally displaced people live with disabilities in refugee camps and urban slums and one third of these disabled people are children.
Pull-out fact: UNHCR and disability
- Up to an estimated 3.5 million refugees and internally displaced people live with disabilities in refugee camps and urban slums and one third of these disabled people are children