13 year old, Dana was born blind. Unfortunately, because of this she has never had the opportunity to attend school. Dana spent her days sitting at home with her parents, who made their living as petty traders, waiting for her two older brothers to come home and tell her about all they had done at school that day.
Dana’s parents understood the value of education despite having little themselves. They earned their living as petty traders and longed for their children to have more than they had been able to provide them and knew education was their way out. They were proud of their boys but their hearts broke knowing Dana would never have the same opportunities.
But, life provided such an opportunity seemingly out of the blue. Dana’s mother was having coffee one evening with an elder from the village when she was introduced to the old women’s grandson. He spoke passionately about a program he called Speed School where he had worked for nearly 4 years. Dana’s mother listened to him speak and hoped that one day her boys would speak so highly of education. Still, she could not help but think of poor Dana and said a quiet prayer for her daughter who would never go to school. Surprisingly, the young man heard her murmuring and took great interest in Dana’s story.
The young man explained to Dana’s mother that there would soon be an opportunity for Dana to go to school despite her handicap through the Speed School Program he had been speaking about. It was difficult for Dana’s mother to understand at first, she was certain it was impossible for a blind girl to ever learn to read or write, but with a lot of coaxing she as convinced, and Dana’s father shortly followed suit.
The following school year Dana joined the Speed School program in Damot Sore Woreda. On her first day of school Dana told the facilitator that it was among the happiest days of her life. The Speed School facilitator with whom she was placed was prepared to deliver inclusive lessons which gave Dana a chance to learn and interact other children with disability and non-disability. Later, Dana became among the top scoring students in her class and was able to pass the placement exam administered by the government’s district education office. Dana rejoined her age peers in class 4 and her facilitator is confident she will go on to complete her education.