Beyond Rejection

How the local church is helping to encourage acceptance for people with disabilities in Togo.

In the heart of a neighbourhood in Tsevie, Togo, Denise lived in loneliness for years. She had been born with a physical disability, with fingers missing on both her hands. From her earliest days, stigma and rejection were part of Denise’s daily life. Even her own father had rejected her from the day she was born.

Denise had no friends at school and each day the other children made it clear she didn’t belong. “I preferred being alone,” she says. “That way I could avoid suffering from comments and rejection.”

Finding a place to belong

Denise found welcome at her local church who run a Compassion project

Denise dropped out of school and began selling small items at the local marketplace. There she met a man called Claude who took an interest in her, and after a while they married. However, they struggled to make ends meet and when Denise found out she was pregnant with her second child, their situation began to feel desperate.

She’d heard about the Compassion project at her local church as a place that was very supportive of women in need. To her surprise, Denise was welcomed and registered with their Survival Intervention for pregnant women and mothers. She immediately experienced love without feeling any barriers due to her disability.

Denise says, “Now I know that God created me this way, and I am no less a human being. At the project, I have learned that God loves me, and I’m valuable to Him in the same way as others… My disability is not a limit to what I can do or be.

Compassion’s Child Survival Interventions keep mothers and babies safe through pregnancy and beyond. Women receive pre- and post-natal health checkups and medical support through labour. Once a baby’s born, the care continues with medical and nutritional support for mum and baby, including vaccinations. Mums can join groups to meet other women for emotional and parenting support.

A strategic partnership to serve the vulnerable

Denise has her own small business

Aspiring to be inclusive, Compassion Togo looked at how they could better integrate mums with disabilities into their Survival initiatives. In 2020, Compassion Togo allied with Christian Blind Mission, an organisation that specialises in supporting people living with a disability. CBM trained 12 specialists from the Compassion Togo national office and 500 staff from projects across the country on how to identify and integrate people with disabilities in the programme to meet their specific needs and overcome stigma.

“Thanks to the collaboration with CBM, integrating people with disabilities into the Compassion programme is no longer a burden or obstacle for us,” says Kodjovi, Compassion Togo Senior Manager of Programme Support.

Living a full and free life

Denise playing with friends

Now, surrounded by friends, Denise is encouraged by the love, care, and teachings at her church. She says, “At the project, we play games to rejoice and de-stress from our problems. Now, I can stand in public and talk. I could never do it before; I always hid myself to escape from people’s judgment and mockery.”

Denise has also invested in a small business to supplement her husband’s wage as a shoemaker. “I’m grateful for the Compassion project,” she says. “They’re family to me; I don’t feel lonely anymore. Compassion and the church are the reason for my joy.”

Compassion International

Words by Compassion International, Akpene Gabriella Samaty


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Compassion UK Christian Child Development, registered charity in England and Wales (1077216) and Scotland (SC045059). A company limited by guarantee, Registered in England and Wales company number 03719092. Registered address: Compassion House, Barley Way, Fleet, Hampshire, GU51 2UT.