When I grow up, I want to help my children in the same way that I was treated - Danakows(15) Story
Danakow(15) lives in Delere kebele, Dasenech wereda of South Omo zone in Southern Nations and Nationalities region of Ethiopia. He is a 6th grader at Shera school. Being visually impaired from an early age, Danakow faced difficulty pursuing his education. He couldn’t follow the class lectures as other kids did and did not know how to use braille. However, this has changed as Danakow is now learning to read and write in braille. He is one of the beneficiaries of Save the Children’s “Improving the Quality of Inclusive Basic Education for Children in Ethiopia” project. His future is bright as he plans to finish schooling and ensure that disabled children are never left behind in education.
During this academic year, the school where Dankwo goes has a total enrolment of 172 children, of which nine are children with disability.
Danakow’s story, in his own words
My name is Danakow. I’m 15 years old and a sixth-grade student at Shera School. I live with my father in Delere kebele, Dasenech wereda of South Omo zone in Southern Nations and Nationalities region of Ethiopia. I have been blind since childhood. But, that didn’t stop me from wanting to go to school. Back then, most of the children in our village go to school, and I recall feeling envious every time I hear them pass by our house to and from school. I asked my father to register me at a nearby school, but since my father was always busy with our herd and me with my disability, the thought of sending me to school was never an immediate priority.
So, one day my friend Yichuma and I went to a nearby school and registered. I can’t tell you how happy I was. The feeling was indescribable. Finally, I was about to learn new things.
However, my happiness was short-lived as another significant challenge cropped up. There was no class for people that are blind, such as myself, and because of this, I had to learn with students with no disabilities. I didn’t know how to write or read or anything. The only option I had was to memorize what I heard in class. The teachers were amiable. They tried not to rush their lectures and took special care to ensure I understood their teaching topics.
However, despite my persistent efforts, I was struggling at school. The human brain can memorize so much at one given time before it starts to forget. I was getting farther and farther behind my peers at school and contemplating quitting. Around that time, I was fortunate enough to hear about our school’s Save the Children program. I was quick to get registered. Through this program, I learned to read and write in braille. They also gave me a paper, a braille stylus, and other supplies. Now I can take as many notes as I want. I don’t have to rely solely on my memory. After that, my grades started improving.
English is one of my favorite subjects at school. I like it because it’s a global language. I want to tell people how visually impaired children like me are usually kept at home and away from school. This practice is not good as it makes it hard for us to go out and socialize with our peers because we have handicaps that prohibit us from doing so. Here, I have many friends besides Yichuma. This is the main reason I like the English subject at school. I believe using this language will help me communicate my experiences with a large number of people.
Furthermore, when I finish my education I plan to get into government so that I can help those who face the same challenges I had faced in my earlier years. I was lucky enough to benefit from the Save the Children’s program, but many others are less fortunate than me.
I’m grateful to Save the Children for everything they have done for me. Apart from the braille training, they also gave me a little FM radio player where I could listen to educational programs at home. I don’t believe that I would’ve reached this far without Save the Children’s continuous support. However, I wish they could also support my father and me in our livelihood aspect, as the pastoralist way of life is getting more problematic by the day as my father is getting much old to take care of me.
In 2012 Save the Children in Ethiopia, in a joint partnership with Save the Children Norway and Save the Children Italy launched the project “Improving the Quality of Inclusive Basic Education for Children in Ethiopia.” Over the nine years, the three-phased projects focused on improving the quality of primary education and child protection in Hamer, Dasenech, and Gnangatom weredas in the South Omo region. This multifaceted project targeted enhancing the quality of the learning environment, child protection, school DRR, students’ retention, and most of all, students’ learning outcomes. Students learning outcomes gave special attention to community awareness, resource mobilization, DRR, MHM[AT1] , classroom management, construction, Capacity development, provision of books, disability materials, communication materials, supply of desks, first aid kits, and WASH materials. This project is currently being implemented in 30 schools of the Hamer, Dasenech, and Gnangatom weredas; the project has reached 4,868 non-disabled and 290 disabled students.
Watch the Video here.
Story by Seifu Asseged