From 65 years of delivering development projects, we know that long-term change happens when we build meaningful partnerships. Our work with community organisations in Burkina Faso has enabled us to promote disability sport at the local, national, and international level.

We work with Handicap Solidare Burkina (HSB), a disability organisation that is led, staffed and managed by people living with disabilities. HSB works with families, communities and disabled athletes to challenge the social stigma around disability.

For many people with disabilities in Burkina Faso, sport is more than just a hobby: it’s a means of improving their health; it’s a way to fight social isolation by meeting other people with disabilities; it’s a platform for challenging the social stigma that they face every day.

We support HSB to reach more people across Ouagadougou and Pabré. Our volunteers have worked with HSB to enable more people to take part in disability sport. Together, we’ve reached more isolated communities, and more people with disabilities. We’ve funded and sourced the specialist wheelchairs athletes need to compete in handibike and wheelchair basketball.

But in 2012, we took our support to the next level. Liam Conlon (one of our longest-serving trustees and a former International Service ICS volunteer) played an integral role in enabling the Burkinabé Paralympic team to compete at London 2012.

When athletes Kadi Nikiema and Lassane Gasbeogo arrived in the UK with their team, they had nowhere to stay, and no access to training facilities. Having volunteered as a team leader with HSB, Liam not only knew the team personally, he was in a perfect position to support them.

He explains, “as one of the first team leaders to work with HSB, I’d worked closely with Kadi and Lassane. I knew how dedicated they were to their sport, and how hard they’d worked to qualify for London 2012.

“I found them training facilities, as well as somewhere to stay. When we found out that their handibikes didn’t meet the standards needed to compete, I worked with a specialist disability sport provider to negotiate funding for two Paralympic-standard handibikes.”

Since 2012, we’ve continued to work with HSB to reach more people with disabilities, and train the next generation of Burkinabé Paralympians. Liam says, “in the time I’ve worked with International Service - from volunteering in Burkina Faso to acting as a trustee - I’ve seen first hand how HSB has grown."

"As a volunteer, HSB was looking to expand its advocacy work, and was only just starting its work with schools. Now, through its ongoing partnership with International Service, it’s one of the most influential disability organisations in Burkina Faso.”