A Life-Altering Day at the Beach
Across from the waters of the Atlantic coast, on the western coast of Africa, is the shoreline of Sierra Leone. On March 18, 2023, the beach in Freetown was transformed into a place of hope as 950 caregivers came together with 700 children and 125 advocates to celebrate Enable the Children’s annual Beach Day.
This event began in 2008 and is now an annual event of encouragement, celebrating children who live with disabilities and their families. In Sierra Leone, children born with disabilities can be shunned and their families ostracized. That is why World Hope’s Enable the Children (ETC) workers are so passionate about organizing something as simple as a public day at the beach for these families.
Imagine being the parent of a child with a disability but having no access to the Internet to learn about it, or to even know there are other children in your community with similar disabilities. But, upon hearing about it, you decide to participate in Beach Day, make your way to the ocean, and see 700 children with varying disabilities, some similar to your own child’s. It is this communal connection that provides hope to parents and caregivers alike.
For one little girl named Elizabeth, Beach Day 2023 was transformative for two reasons—first, this was her first ETC Beach Day. The second is that ETC has had a profound impact on changing her father’s attitude toward her since he attended an ETC Dad’s meeting. As a result, he is now much more involved in her life. Elizabeth’s mother shared her story at the beach about what an impact her husband’s changed attitude toward Elizabeth has had in their lives, which gave courage to several other families.
Some who attended, including players on two popular local soccer teams, were touched by stories such as Alhaji’s, one of the ETC children, who said: “I don’t know why people say bad things about us, but please remember, when you say bad things, we hear it and believe it, and start to think the same bad things about ourselves too. Please stop looking down on us. We are also important, and we can do things that other children can do.”
Partnering with World Hope to sponsor a child living with a disability is a special way to bring transformation to an entire community. Your gift of sponsorship will give opportunity, dignity, and hope to children and their families living with disabilities.
Program Director and Physiotherapist for Enable the Children Program, World Hope International
ETC is a WHI program made up of local and expatriate staff who provide physiotherapy and